Pursued: The Nikki Boyd Files by Lisa Harris – Book Review

Pursued: The Nikki Boyd Files  by Lisa Harris

Published by Revell Publishing  April 04, 2017

Genre:  Suspense, Mystery

Pages:  320

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Nikki Boyd’s flight into Nashville was routine–up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing–and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can’t-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.

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Story Notes

Lisa Harris’ highly anticipated third Nikki Boyd novel promises danger, suspense and drama but falls a little short in the first two categories.

I was given the first Nikki Boyd story for my birthday last year and really enjoyed the complex mystery and ongoing personal drama that Lisa Harris introduced to her readers. I have since read the second story and was really looking forward to her newest installment, however I was rather disappointed with this story. Ms. Harris began her book with Nikki being on-board a flight to Nashville, Tennessee, anticipating spending some time off with the man she is quickly coming to love, Tyler Grant. They have been through much together in the past few years and their shared tragedies have brought them together for more than friendship. Those plans are quickly shoved to the back burner when Nikki’s plane experiences engine failure and has to make an emergency crash landing. After escaping the wreckage with the rest of the passengers, Nikki searches for the woman who had been in the seat next to her who has disappeared. But upon asking the flight crew for the woman’s full name, Nikki is told that there was no one in the seat next to her and that no one with the name of Erika was on board her flight. Being a member of the Missing Persons Task Force, however, is Nikki’s career and she knows there is something going on here. What her investigation brings her to will test her physical, mental and investigative limits in the most brutal ways possible, and throw her into the middle of a case full of danger and murder. Anticipation and anxiety are meant to be a part of every good mystery and I felt that there was some of those intense feelings that were missing from this story. Like many who read mysteries or suspense stories often, I am looking to be truly terrified or anxious alongside the main characters of the story. I couldn’t get there with this story, and it was disappointing as I was “anticipating” a good read with this latest Nikki Boyd story. The main reason it was hard to feel anxiety was that the “danger” or “chase” scenes were not very descriptive or long. The action was not completely described in a way that was tense and “close call” like. I wasn’t really scared for Nikki or for the other characters like I had been in the two passed books and that was a little sad for me. The other reason I didn’t find it very thrilling is that the “bad guy” was not very well developed or explained. I prefer that my bad guys have some really awful behavior that makes you despise them throughout the whole book. I also prefer that they remain unnamed or if they are named, they have to be very good at getting away with their crimes; and this needs to be described well in the story so I can really understand why he or she is the bad guy. If there had been one of these two that was better done I think I would have enjoyed this book much more. I am choosing to believe this is just a “one-off” for Ms. Harris and the next Nikki Boyd will be much improved in the mystery/suspense department. I was, however, very pleased with the personal growth of Nikki herself throughout the story and am glad she finally sorted out her feelings for Tyler. Nikki carries much guilt and sorrow from her sister’s disappearance and supposed murder, which is one of her main drives for taking a position on the Missing Persons Task Force. Although she may never find out the whole story of her sister’s disappearance she is ready to move on and make a life with Tyler.  Tyler has spent several years sorting through the grief of his murdered wife, trying to raise their son, Liam, and still do the cyber security job he loves.  His recent trip to Liberia has helped him sort out his feelings for Nikki and he is looking forward to spending more time with her and Liam. I was so glad to see that Ms. Harris was having their relationship grow as they both grow in their faith. I’ve been rooting for them to get together since book one and am so excited to see where Ms. Harris will take them next. So, although this book was not as well-developed as I would have liked to have seen, I will still recommend this book as part of the Nikki Boyd series. I would not recommend that it be read as a stand alone as I think it is more of a transitional story rather than one that really drives the series. I will be looking for the next story in the series and hope that it will have more of the “umph” that I’m looking for in my mysteries.

I received this e-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

 

True to You by Becky Wade – Book Review

True to You by Becky Wade

Published by Bethany House Publishers  May 02, 2017

Genre: Christian, Romance

Pages: 384

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

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Story Notes

Becky Wade’s latest foray into the world of fiction will leave her readers pondering their ability to forgive, take on tough issues, and love again.

Again I have been presented with a new-to-me author, and this one I am most certainly going to add to my “must read” list. I had an idea of how I thought this story would go and although I had some aspects of it right, Ms. Wade just blew all of my preconceptions out of the water and delivered a story that really made me consider the issues at hand. She began with a young genealogist/librarian named Nora Bradford who has decided to focus all her attention on the books, TV dramas, and village she loves rather than her love life, which in recent years has taken a devastating hit. Her fiance Harrison fell in love with another woman and has since married her and started a family – all in the same town where Nora lives. Finding more comfort in her books and projects, Nora has decided that God will have to bring her the right person, although she’s not sure He can as she believes He betrayed her with Harrison. Enter John Lawson, former Navy Seal and current emergency preparedness instructor who literally sweeps Nora off her feet. Only one problem: John already has a girlfriend. But when John discovers Nora’s occupation he immediately employs her to find his biological mother. John is mysterious about his reasons for finding his mother, but that doesn’t stop Nora from jumping feet first into this quest for information. As they follow all the clues to find out John’s history they will find real friendship, and perhaps, something more. I loved the way which Ms. Wade presented this story – well developed plot and characters with excellent dialogue and some great vocabulary thrown in that made the story really fun. And it was interesting to see that she ended each of her chapters with a text message or email that gave a hint of where her story was going next – what a great idea! I loved the razzing that went on between the sisters that was fun but never went beyond teasing to hurtful words. I could tell Ms. Wade really wanted you to get to know both her main characters and the sub characters who are in their lives. She was careful to have the three sisters respond respectfully and graciously in spite of their grandmother’s unkind diatribes while making sure their grandmother knew she was wrong. I further enjoyed her way of writing the growing romance between Nora and John – they both are attracted to each other but are unsure how to proceed given that John has a girlfriend and Nora is wary of relationships. I was glad to see that Ms. Wade had John break things off nicely with his girlfriend, Allie, before she allowed him and Nora to get together. Their relationship was so well described  it made me feel I was one of Nora’s sisters watching it play out. I loved their conversations and how John was always asking Nora if she had really just used an advanced vocabulary word in everyday speech. But when their search for John’s mother brings good as well as heartbreaking news, their relationship with each other and with God will face the greatest test of all: trust. How good it was that Ms. Wade did not shy away from the difficult topics of rape conception and whether a child of a rapist can have any tendencies passed on in genetics. I was happy to see she made it very clear that our faith in God, our families and our choices are what define us rather than the circumstances of our conception or birth. And Ms. Wade also took on the topic of trust with both John and Nora. John had to remember that God made him exactly the way He wanted him and that He could be trusted to redeem that which John’s father had destroyed. Nora had to learn that God is the one she must trust first of all if she is going to have any hope of a real relationship with John. She will have to lay aside her anger and hurt if she is to find her true identity in God. The “Redeeming” theme that Ms. Wade’s story carried is what made it to very special to me. Too often we forget that we have all been redeemed by a Savior and everyone is a new creation in Him. And when we come face-to-face with a situation that demands that we decide if we believe that’s true, that is how we see the enormity of what was done for us. I truly look forward to sharing this story with others as well as the stories of the other two Bradford sisters as I hear this will be the first in a trilogy called “The Bradford Sisters Romance”.  I have also placed several of Ms. Wade’s former works on hold at my library to enjoy very soon as well.

I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson – Book Review

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Published by Bethany House Publishers   May 02, 2017

Genre: Mystery and Suspense, Christian

Pages: 432

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publishers Description

Evie Blackwell’s reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results–and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn’t be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that “justice for all” truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

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Story Notes

This latest Evie Blackwell Cold Case is anything but cold and Dee Henderson makes sure her readers will read to the very last page to discover the extremely elusive culprit. Her ability to make you feel like you are the one investigating the case or belong in the situation she presents is why I and so many others always love her books. This new series brings a whole new meaning to the word Tenacious, with a team dedicated to solving the crimes law enforcement has deemed unsolvable. Evie has picked a missing person’s case involving a college student who disappeared without a trace and whose body was never found. As she dives into the police reports and investigation notes she finds a thoroughness in them that makes her confident the detectives and officers in charge worked the case as far as they could before all leads ran out. But with the FBI and the Govenor’s office behind her, Evie hopes to use all her resources to find out what happened and bring the family the closure they desire. Digging deep below the surface of people’s lives is her life’s work and the deeper she digs into Jenna Greenhill, the more she finds that Jenna was not the sweet, smart friend parents and professors believed her to be. Jenna specialized in manipulation and used her “friends” to get her whatever she wanted, be it a new “boyfriend” or just the attention of everyone around. And this manipulation leads Evie to a suspect pool that grows larger with every question she asks. Evie has learned well from her mentor, Ann Falcon, that more information is always the best way to solve one’s case and although it means lots of reading and sorting this will serve Evie well when she starts finding ‘threads’ she can pull to find an answer to the mystery of Jenna’s disappearance. When one of the threads starts to lead in a direction that becomes personal for Evie’s friends and co-workers, she begins to pray the answers will not bring trouble or harm to those she loves most. Add to this the discovery that everyone who was interviewed after Jenna’s disappearance did not tell all they knew and Evie will have to work hard and fast to eliminate her ever expanding list of suspects. As she follows the evidence she begins to see that her case may be connected to other missing person’s cases that have yet to be fully resolved as well. And the linchpin of those connections may be the concert performances of her co-worker David Marshall’s fiancée, Maggie McDonald. Ms. Henderson brings from this tangled ball of threads a conclusion that is sure to leave her readers feeling that all questions were answered and all culprits caught. I loved reading every page of this story, from the descriptive ways that Ms. Henderson had Evie set up her suspect/questions boards to the interviews she conducted with those suspects. It was very much like walking alongside an investigator’s daily work without the aching feet to show for it. I also loved that Ms. Henderson included another case alongside the Greenhill disappearance that Evie consulted on. David has chosen to work the cold case of a missing PI who disappeared in the middle of multiple cases, several of which could have been the reason for his disappearance. I enjoyed seeing how Evie and David worked separately and together on both cases, each bringing new ideas and theories for the happenings of the crimes. Ms. Henderson was careful to give each their own distinctive voice and method of approaching a case. Their discussion of how they go about examining the evidence and reports was a fun conversation that helped me understand their ways of thinking about a case. And that Ms. Henderson also included excellent insights into both Evie and David’s personal lives was another of my favorite parts of this story. Evie is trying to sort out whether she loves her boyfriend Rob Turney enough to marry him, and if she will fit well into his life permanently. She loves that he is there for her at all times and that he lets her do her job without getting offended when the job breaks their plans. But is that enough to build a marriage on? And could she be the wife Rob needs to support his reputation as a much-sought-after fiscal banking advisor. David helps Evie ask the tough questions about her and Rob, making sure she tells Rob what her concerns are and how they can work through them. Ms Henderson is careful not to close out all of Evie’s relationship questions though, keeping the ultimate conclusion of that for another story in the series. With David, Ms. Henderson takes on the difficult situation of a person who has recently become a Christian but who is also engaged to a person who is not a Christian. I was thrilled to see that she made the situation as complicated as it should be but tempered it with kindness and grace. David loves Maggie very deeply but knows he can’t marry her unless she becomes a Christian. However he doesn’t feel God is calling him to break things off with Maggie, rather he understands that he must wait and let God bring her to Himself in His timing. Their story is so wonderfully powerful and sweet, showing that following God may be painful but trust is required if we wish to have the best that God has for us.  Ms. Henderson closes out her story with the conclusion of both cases and both relationships growing in new and better ways. She also included a great new character named Lori Nesbitt who I hope will take on a larger role in later books. Ms. Henderson provides the perfect segue way between her books by solving the relevant crimes but leaving the persons involved incomplete in their decisions, both personally and professionally. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how she will bring about the next phase of cold cases and personal lives of her characters. I have already recommended this book multiple times to others and will certainly continue to do so. Thank you Ms. Henderson for such a well written story!

I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Spring Raine by Delia Latham – Book Review

Spring Raine by Delia Latham

Published by Pelican Book Group   February 24, 2017

Genre: Christian, Romance

Pages: 252

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

An uncharacteristic, last-minute decision to do something “wild and crazy” before entering the stressful world of forensic science sends Raine Presley to Cambria, California. Against a cloud of disapproval from her slightly manipulative, over-protective parents, she signs a seasonal lease at the beautiful Paradise Pines Lodge…and winds up over her head in life and love.

Declan Keller’s just minding his own business—literally—when Raine drops into his world and turns it upside down. He’s far too busy carving beautiful shapes out of chunks of wood to be babysitting a gal from Pasadena. Even so, his father’s promise to an old friend obligates him, despite a looming deadline that could make or break his career in the art world. He’s praying for anything but Raine when she comes along.

Neither Declan nor Raine is prepared for the seemingly divine influence of Paradise Pines—and Miss Angelina Love. A mysterious lady who may or may not own the lodge, Miss Angie possesses an amazing talent for mending ruffled feathers, spouting proverbs, and somehow bending even the most determined of hearts to the power of love.

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Story Notes

Delia Latham’s first book in the Paradise Pines series will be a delight to her readers looking for a good romance, an insight into the power of Godly relationships, and the joy that comes from discovering one’s true calling in life.

Not having previously read a book by this author, I was curious to see her writing style and ability to create and complete a multi-level plot . There is always a bit of skepticism when I am presented with a new-to-me author, skepticism that thankfully gave way to enjoyment as I read further into Ms Latham’s first Paradise Pines story. I was most happy to see that she made the most of the pages in her story, given it was shorter than the usual length of novels. She jumped right into the story, drawing me in with her lovely descriptions of the Paradise Pines lodge and its unusual owner  – making me wish I could spend a vacation in the home of sweet Angelina Love. And her main character, Raine, was one I could relate to, both with parental expectations and discovering the path God has called me to walk. Although my parents were never in any way the extremists that Raine’s parents seem to be, I knew growing up that I was expected to give my best efforts to my schooling and personal life. But Raine finds herself in need of what my parents encouraged but hers did not – a break to decide if her life was headed in the direction that would most glorify God. And her three month stay at Paradise Pines will certainly bring her the answers she desires most – how to honor the time and efforts her parents poured into her life and still do what God would have her do. Ms. Latham used Raine to tell a story that illustrates the importance of a close relationship with God that will lead to finding the path He has planned for you. How fun it was to walk along side Raine as she discovered the joy to be found all around her in the Creation of God as well as opening her eyes to seeing those around her who had lost hope of finding a place to belong. Raine meets two young teens who both seem in need of someone to care that they exist – meetings that spark a desire to establish a place for them and others who need a home and family to call their own. But Raine will have to make the choice of whether to return to the life waiting for her or stay in Cambria to run the new home, Chrysalis. And to all this wonderful drama Ms. Latham adds a sweet romance between Raine and Ms. Angelina’s neighbor Declan Kellar. Declan is happy with his quiet existence, carving works of art from wood in preparation for a gallery showing. He has little time for the favor his father asks of him to keep an eye on a friend’s “spoiled” daughter who is staying next door for the next three months, but he can’t refuse his father’s request. Little does he know that meeting Raine Presley will change his life in many ways, and all of them for the better. I loved that Ms. Latham had them become friends first before they moved on to romance. There was a real credibility that came through and helped me connect with them in a better way – from feeling joy at their first kiss to feeling the intense hurt they both felt when Raine breaks up with Declan after finding out her father hired him as he bodyguard. Ms. Latham’s story was one I truly enjoyed and will most certainly re-read. I loved the way she described the incredible power of God that radiated from Angelina Love and depth of her relationship that would lead Raine to seek a real relationship with God herself. And one of her sub-characters Shay was one of the best I’ve read in some time; her overwhelmingly kind and loving personality reminding me of several friends God has brought into my life. How good it was to be reminded that God gives us just what and whom we need when we are seeking to serve Him with our lives. I will certainly be recommending this story to others and be purchasing a copy of this and the rest of the series in the near future.

I received this E-book free of charge from Pelican Book Group via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.