All is Calm, All is Bright by Colleen Coble PLUS GIVEAWAY LINK

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Christmas came a little early for me this year, in the form of two great novellas from Colleen Coble.  I thoroughly enjoyed both stories, even without having read the Lonestar and Hope Beach series which these are tied to.   They were the perfect mix of romance and danger.  If you’ve never read anything from Colleen Coble, these novellas would be a great way to try out a new author and preview a few of her different series.

Plot:  All is Calm- Marine Brendan Waddell is visiting friends at the Bluebird Ranch, recovering from an injury.  Lauren Everman spent some time at the ranch as a child, and when she rescues a horse that’s in danger of being put down, she has nowhere else to go.  When it becomes clear that danger has followed Lauren, it’s up to Brendan to keep her safe and figure out what’s going on.

All is Bright- When someone runs Delilah Carter off the road, she’s not sure what’s going on.  When Sheriff Tom Bourne learns about it, along with other incidents, he’s determined to get to the bottom of things and keep her alive long enough to ask her on a date like he’s been wanting to do.

Characters:  It’s always hard to find well-developed characters in novellas, but I thought the characters in both stories were well written.  They had enough back stories to make them interesting and real.  I enjoyed Delilah and Tom’s story a little more, as they already knew each other, making the romance more believable.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy romantic suspense.  They definitely made me want to read the rest of the books in both these series.  These would be a great way to get into the Christmas mood.

Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 Be sure to visit Thomas Nelson & Zondervan’s Facebook page to enter the giveaway for both of Colleen Coble’s Novella collections: Silent Night, Holy Night and All is Calm, All is Bright.

http://on.fb.me/1Nv8fim

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

Rising Darkness

This was the first I’ve read anything  by Nancy Mehl, and it was good enough to make me a fan.  While it’s the third book in the series, it did stand alone and I didn’t feel I was missing any background.  The suspense was well written and it kept me guessing until the end.  The story is told from Sophie’s first person perspective, which I normally don’t enjoy, but I was so caught up in the story I barely noticed that, so kudos to the author for a job well done.

Plot:  Sophie Bauer has some things from her past she’d rather keep hidden.  As a newspaper reporter, she’s looking for a big story that can make her career.  When she receives a tip that a criminal from a well-known bank heist may be hiding out in Sanctuary, Missouri, she takes some vacation time and goes undercover to track down a criminal.  When an old crush from her previous life in Kingdom shows up, Sophie’s cover story starts to unravel.  As the danger grows, Sophie doesn’t know who to trust.

Characters:  The story is told solely through Sophie.  I liked how the author hinted at things in her past, then gradually revealed them through the story.  Sophie’s been through some rough times which makes the reader sympathize with her.  She’s a little lost, but doesn’t realize it until she arrives in Sanctuary and is surrounded by the kindly Mennonite community.  Jonathon Wiese grew up with Sophie in Kingdom and  is now a pastor in Sanctuary.  There are also plenty of suspicious characters that are possibly the criminal Sophie is searching for, which kept the story interesting and suspenseful.

Recommendation:   I’d highly recommend this book to those that enjoy suspense and mystery.  After reading it, I’m definitely going to look for more books from Nancy Mehl.

Rating:  5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

High-Caliber Holiday by Susan Sleeman

High Caliber HolidayFirst Responders Series, book 3

First of all, how gorgeous is that cover!  I know it’s a bit cliché, but each book in this series just gets better!  I loved this story.  It was packed full of action, plot twists and romance.  I enjoyed how close knit the first responders group is; they’re like a big family. The author did a great job of creating the different suspects.  There were several that seemed guilty and I was truly surprised by the outcome.

Plot:  After defending her father’s company in a class-action lawsuit, Morgan Thornsby has lost interest in practicing law.  Unfortunately, there are still some disgruntled people who’ve lost their case, one of whom ends up taking Morgan hostage on a train.  The First Responders are called upon, and it’s up to sniper Brady Owens to save her.  Getting her out of that situation turns out to be just the beginning of Morgan’s troubles.  She has a stalker, and Brady makes it his personal mission to keep her safe.

Characters:  Morgan was a very likeable and relatable character.  Her life was going in a direction she didn’t care for, so she changed it.  Going from the little rich girl to her current lower budget life isn’t always easy, but she’s finally managing her own life.  Brady’s a great hero, despite the hesitation that injured Morgan.  I love how protective he is, trying to make up for his mistake by keeping her safe now.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book and the rest of the First Responders series to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense.  I enjoy the Love Inspired books because they’re such a quick read and this series is connected, so the main characters appear in the other books.

Rating:  5/5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hiding Places by Erin Healy

Hiding Places

First thoughts:  I really enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would.  I generally enjoy a little romance in my reading, but with the main character being 11 years old, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  As I became engrossed in this book, I didn’t miss the lack of a love interest at all.  The story moved along at a nice pace, had some twists, and kept enough secrets that I had to keep reading to find out what would happen.

Plot:  Kate is good at keeping secrets, from the candy bars she hides for her grandpa to her sister’s drug use, the four generations of her family running the Harrison lodge all have secrets to keep.  When Kate overhears her grandpa arguing with a man that later turns up dead, the action picks up around her home.  Meanwhile, Charlie finds himself caught in the middle of a robbery, then kidnapping gone bad.  He’s on the run from the Mile High Heavies gang and looking for a safe place to hide.

Characters:  The story is told from the four perspectives of Kate, Great-Grandma Pearl, the young homeless man Charlie, and a gang leader known as The Fox.  I enjoyed the diversity of the characters, as they all come from such different backgrounds and are at different stages of life.  I loved that while some were antagonists in the story, I still felt a connection with them and was rooting for all to get their happy endings.  It takes a great story to make me like the ‘bad guy’.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy clean suspense without the romance.  Although it’s classified as Christian, there wasn’t much more than a few bible story references, so I’d consider it more of a general market.  This was the first book I’ve read by Erin Healy, but I’ll definitely be looking for more from her.

One interesting side note, the story does include a few orphaned cougar cubs and mentions the WIld Animal Sanctuary, a real large carnivore rescue site near Denver.  I’ve visited there on vacation and it was an amazing place.  I love that the author mentioned it, as it made the setting of the story feel more real to me.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.