Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
It’s been a tough month for a lot of people, and I’ve been thinking how wonderful it is to have really good books to sink into, especially the kind that offer hope and a guaranteed happy-ever-after. I know when I look at my many to-be-read and to-be-listened to queues, I find myself turning more and more to the straight romances, and often to the lighter reads.
Writers, please keep writing. I think the next few years are going to take some really great HEAs to get through.
As you may know, this month I’ve been celebrating gratitude and romance novels with some pro-romance friends, and we’re closing out November posts with some great Romantic Suspense picks.
***PJ Ausdenmore is a great and long-time friend of romance at The Romance Dish. Her recommendations:
Thanks to the following titles, I can tell you exactly what my neighborhood looks like at 3:00 AM. Once I immersed myself in these stories, they refused to be set aside until I reached the final page.
From beginning to end, Because I’m Watching by Christina Dodd is a story that refuses to let go. Dodd uses every facet of her creative mind to expertly guide her characters – and the reader – through this compelling, edge-of-your-seat thriller. Filled with intrigue, anguish, forgiveness, hope, enough twists and turns to keep me constantly guessing, and a love that heals two broken souls, this unforgettable story earned my highest recommendation.
I wanted to read Wild Man’s Curse by Susannah Sandlin slowly, savoring each word, absorbing the steamy, mystical, sometimes sensual, sometimes sinister life on the Louisiana bayou while, at the same time, racing through the pages to discover what awaited around the next turn. In this first book of her Wilds of the Bayou series, Sandlin paints a vivid picture of life on the bayou, the people who call it home, the sizzling sexual tension and gradually developing romance between the hero and heroine, and a chillingly depraved villain who threatens it all. Wild Man’s Curse is one wild ride and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Deception Island by Brynn Kelly, a dark, unrelenting journey of non-stop action, passion, and suspense, sucked me in and left me breathless. Thrown into the center of soulless villains engaged in murder, kidnapping, extortion, and human trafficking, my heart raced with fear for those in their sights and ached for those in their grasp. While the villains broke my heart, it was Kelly’s flawed hero and heroine who surprisingly captured it. I was in this unlikely couple’s corner the whole way; gasping at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they were forced to overcome, sighing at the unexpected, tender moments, delighting in the verbal swordplay, and clueless as to how Kelly was going to pull off the impossible, happy ending they deserved. It’s one heck of a ride from an exceptionally talented debut author. I can’t wait to see where Brynn Kelly takes readers next!
***Kim Lowe from the SOS Aloha blog is another long-time blogger and romance fan. Kim’s picks:
Over the past year, I have become a fan of “cozy” mysteries, featuring the lighthearted adventure of an amateur sleuth, a hint of romance with an adversary, and a special theme that ties together the series of books. Cozy mysteries are easy to read and often make me laugh with the characters’ over-the-top antics as they seek truth, justice, and the best recipe/yard/garden in town. (Cozy mysteries often include recipes, patterns, and tips).
Lindsay Emory explores sorority life in RUSHING TO DIE, Book 2 in the Sorority Sisters Mystery series. She recreates Greek life with fraternity pranks, sorority bonding, and practice til you drop rush preparations. Emory pokes fun at, while paying tribute to, the time honored tradition of competing for sorority membership. The heroine, Margot Blythe, is a Die Hard chapter adviser - think of a female Jack McClane taking charge to ensure the coeds sing in tune, dance in unison, and smile on demand ... all while preserving their manicures and makeup. RUSHING TO DIE is a laugh-out-loud walk down memory lane for those who savored Greek life and for those who watch the antics as a GDI (God Damn Independent).
Sherry Harris’ ALL MURDERS FINAL, Book 3 in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series, explores life in a historic New England town where the residents struggle to keep up with the high cost of living. Enter Sarah Winston – divorced military spouse and garage sale organizer – who hunts down bargains along with suspects in the crime of the week. Harris incorporates local traditions - wine from the packy! – making it clear she based her fictional world on Hanscom AFB outside Boston (my first duty assignment in the Air Force). Harris adds depth with Sarah's struggle to reconcile her feelings for her ex-husband (based on sweet memories) and the very single district attorney (based on rebound fun). The crème de la crème was Mike the Big Cheese, a secondary character who hints at another mystery altogether. I hope to see Mike (and his cheese) in future books.
ABOVE THE PAW, Book 5 in the Paw Enforcement series, falls somewhere between cozy mystery and thriller. Author Diane Kelly creates a unique bond between Officer Megan Luz and her canine partner, Brigit. They patrol the streets of Fort Worth, Texas, as a formidable team - Megan is proficient with the police baton and Brigit has a nose second to none. They have successfully taken down a bomber, murder, thief, and pervert, leading to public accolades as they work the crowd during the Fourth of July celebrations. Despite the scorching heat, Brigit still sniffs out street drugs among the crowd entering the venue, leading Megan to volunteer for an undercover gig on the college campus. ABOVE THE PAW is more than a mystery - it has heart as Megan maintains a "can do spirit" in a male dominated profession. ABOVE THE PAW also offers humor as Brigit shares her thoughts on smelly squad cars, dimwitted drug dealers, and pepperoni pizza.
***Lynne Wall is a Reference Associate and Readers’ Advisory with the Aurora Public Library (Chicago-area) and huge romance fan. She shares:
I am grateful for D.D. Ayres’ Rival Forces which is part of her K-9 Rescue Series.
Kye, the owner of very successful Search and Rescue company is on vacation on the ski slopes of Idaho when his military buddy calls and asks him to check up on his half-sister Yardley, with whom Kye has some bad history. Detouring from his plan to return to Hawaii, his birthplace, Kye heads east to find out what kind of trouble Yardley is in.
Yardley owns Harmony Kennels where she trains K-9 patrol dogs. She is part Native American and spent years living on a reservation until she was reunited with her father, who treats her only slightly better than what she experienced on the reservation.
Kye shows up at Yardley’s with Lily, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, whileYardley is training a Czech wolfdog. He discovers that Yardley is concerned because the doctor she’d been dating has disappeared. Shortly after Kye arrives, some agents, supposedly from the FBI, show up at the kennel looking for the doctor, making Yardley more determined to find him. Kye senses that Yardley is in jeopardy and refuses to leave her. As they face dangerous situations together in the search, they are forced to re-examine their feelings for one another.
Rival Forces is #4 in this suspenseful, action packed series. The newest installment is Explosive Forces which was released this month. I really enjoy the storylines of these books, but the way Ayres works the animals into the stories and deftly explores the nuances of the breeds, gives the reader a feel of them as characters in the story.
Always Watching by Lynette Eason put me in a grateful mood. Suspense, tension, and fear of death for the characters at any moment kept me turning pages. The opening passage makes you wonder who’s watching who. Olivia Edwards is the owner of Elite Guardians, a security agency which has been hired secretly to guard Wade Savage, a popular radio psychiatrist. When the agent guarding him is viciously attacked, Olivia takes over to keep Wade safe. Wade’s stalker is very twisted and not afraid to do what it takes to get to him. As you can imagine, Wade is uncomfortable with Olivia on the job. This only intensifies as the two become close.
I enjoy Eason’s writing and that she has created an Inspirational Romantic Suspense series with strong, smart, female bodyguards. Even the book covers are a departure for this genre. Always Watching is the first in the series and Without Warning (Elite Guardians #2) is also available now.
*** Last but not least, Scandal from Scandalicious Book Reviews . Scandy’s picks:
The Obsession by Nora Roberts
Edge of your seat romantic suspense that keeps the pages turning - that's how I describe this book. While I was able to figure out the "who" in the bad guy scenario, nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me for the extent of his big bad. This book took me on a whirlwind trip that had me questioning everything, at every corner. Quintessential Nora Roberts goodness.
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
This one has romance but it's also a mystery, a big, terrible, convoluted mystery that pulled me in from page one. In my opinion, Reisz is one of the greatest storytellers of our day and the way she weaves the past and present on the pages of this book, well, it's simply sublime. The Bourbon Thief is an emotional and captivating story that will break your heart and put it back together but leave it a little wonky in the end.
So there you have it! A few recommendations from a year chock-full of great romance!
I’ll be checking in with these ladies each month to check on their favorite reads for 2017, and I am so looking forward to hearing what they have to say.
A lovely holiday to all of you, and a December to come filled with love. I think we all need just a little bit more it - in books and in life - right now.
#LoveRomance #GratefulforRomance #HappyReading