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Books . . . Looks and Takes by Eleanor Anders
by:  Eleanor Anders
web:  http://eleanoranders.wordpress.com/
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/Eleanor_Anders
***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***
April 20, 2014

DARK TIDE

by: Susan Sleeman
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Published: March 1, 2014
Format: Paperback (224 pages)
ISBN: 9780373445882
Series: The Justice Agency
Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (egalley)

My Look:

Gina's brother mourned his wife's death, worked for the Coast Guard, and raised his newborn daughter, Sophia. Gina Evans takes care of Jon's daughter and did what she could for her brother, until the unthinkable happened. Jon died. She didn't believe his crash was an accident, but the police wouldn't even listen to her.

Now, Gina is trying to raise Sophia. Being a single stand-in mother, she sees the world through different eyes. These deaths brought her parents closer to her, as their relationship had been strained from her childhood, and it helps that she lives close to Jon's Coast Guard teammate and best friend and his wife.

However, once Gina was attacked, she fled to a friend's home in Portland.

She wasn't gone long, but a struggle was evident. The door told that story. All she could think of was finding Sophia. Wrapping the child in a blanket, she headed outside to look for her friend, Lilly.

Everything happened so fast. She watched her friend die and the murderer was coming for them.

Meanwhile, Derrick Justice didn't know this number, but working for the family private investigation agency, these calls can happen. The whispered voice couldn't be a dream. It was real. The woman who left him in college is calling for help. He'd be the first to admit he wasn't happy about this, but he wasn't going to leave anyone in trouble, especially a child.

He made it to her location to find Gina hiding with a seven-month old girl behind a Dumpster, but nobody else was around, until heavy footfalls sounded from behind.

My Take:

Susan Sleeman's DARK TIDE is an engaging read where the suspense doesn't end but a romance does blossom!

I took a liking to Gina Evans right from the start. She's strong, loving, and loyal. At times, you'll wonder if her loyalty is misguided in some directions. Her life has been filled with rejection, accidents, deaths, and family crisis, but her faith is strong. No longer the heady school girl, she's a woman who is trying to do right by this child who has now become hers. Her attraction to Derrick is still alive, but he's stayed a person who can't commit. Gina won't let Sophia pay that kind of price.

However, Derrick Justice has moved on since his college days, but on a personal level his inability to commit still rules him. It's not that he's always thinking the next best thing is around the corner. In fact, he knows the best person that ever happened to him is back in his life. This hero is in need of faith, fixing, and a whole lot of loving care, but he's too scared to reach for it. What I liked about Derrick Justice is that the Alpha male he is on the outside, isn't the person he is on the inside. He wants more than the empty life he has, but he has fear issues that are too much for him alone.

DARK TIDE by Susan Sleeman is a standalone title, but also it is the last in a series about a loving family, the Justice family. These titles have suspense abound but romance will fill this family along the way. I know the Justice Agency series is one you'll want to uncover: DOUBLE EXPOSURE (Love Inspired Suspense June 2012), DEAD WRONG (Love Inspired Suspense November 2012), NO WAY OUT (Love Inspired Suspense May 2013), and THREAD OF SUSPICION (Love Inspired Suspense October 2013!

April 19, 2014

EASTER BUNNY MURDER

by: Leslie Meier
Publisher: Kensington
Published: January 29, 2013
Format: 304 pages
ISBN: 9780758229359
Series: A Lucy Stone Mystery
Origin: Publisher

My Look:

Lucy Stone loves spring, and she's looking forward to the annual Easter egg hunt with her grandson. Although, this year, something here just feels off.

No attendants greet them, but people followed the instructions from the past and didn't block the entrance. Usually, Tinker Cove is abuzz about the annual event, but she's heard some rumors that she's brushed off as just that—until she stands outside the gates of VV's plush estate, which wasn't so much plush anymore. In years gone by, Lucy's marveled at the grounds, but this year, the expansive greens and wondrous beds look beaten, weathered, and worn.

As the crowd grows waiting for the event to begin, Lucy's still trying to understand what is happening to the grounds.

Soon, the butler was coming to the gate and the Easter Bunny walked out the front door, dropping eggs along the way. The kids became excited and the parents couldn't wait for their little bundles to scoop up their prizes, looking too cute in their attire. That is until the Easter Bunny did something unexpected.

The Easter Bunny collapsed just beyond the gate. It wasn't planned, cute, or even funny.

Stunned people gained the senses and began to sooth their crying children, wondering if these kids were scarred for life after witnessing the real death of the Easter Bunny. Would Easter ever be the same? With the bunny head removed, Lucy knew immediately who lie lifeless on the ground. This year's Easter Bunny had been Van Vorst Duff, VV's grandson.

Now, the questions shuffled through Lucy's mind. Did someone want to kill a hapless Easter Bunny, whomever was in the suit, or did someone want to kill Van? Why?

Lucy Stone finally remembered she was the press and grabbed her camera, taking shots as the ambulance arrived. She knew they sent an ambulance but they needed the coroner's wagon instead.

It had probably been the shock that had Lucy thinking murder because Van's death had been labeled natural causes. Sadly, his death at a young age has Lucy thinking about wills for her and her husband, but he wants nothing to do with the subject. It's not that they had much to leave their children, but Lucy thought things should be left at least tidy for them in the end.

Anyway, Van's death was still a headline story and became a bigger one once his ex, Maxine, walks into the Pennysaver office with her story.

According to Maxine, Victoria, her husband, and their attorney are abusive toward the elderly VV and steal from her estate. They also killed Van! Although Maxine had no proof about their part in Van's death, she does present a good case of elder abuse going on at the estate.

Lucy is determined to get into the estate and becomes the hired help.

This story becomes even more bizarre when friends and family are kept away from VV and the few seconds Lucy did see the elderly woman only gave confirmation to the elder abuse claim. However, once Maxine comes into the mansion, a family dust-up ensues. She not only states her claims of abuse in front everyone, but she doesn't hold back on her murder accusation either.

When Maxine is dead, Lucy is sure this was murder!

My Take:

Leslie Meier does it again with the EASTER BUNNY MURDER! Knee deep in another death or two, Lucy Stone still pulls you into her story while you gather the clues along with her, wondering if this road leads to a dead-end or another murder. You'll stay up late just to find out!

Lucy is my kind of sleuth. She's a wife, mother, employee, and a snoop with a nose for a story and eye for detail. These attributes fit her profession well, but they can lead her headfirst into danger as everyone is not always who they seem to be. Her town is small but lively except for those who are dead, of course.

EASTER BUNNY MURDER by Leslie Meier is a standalone novel and is available for preorder! However, you'll want to hunt for clues in this author's other titles including: CHOCOLATE COVERED MURDER (Kensington 2012), BACK TO SCHOOL MURDER (Kensington 2012), TIPPY TOE MURDER (Kensington 2012), ENGLISH TEA MURDER (Kensington 2011), CHRISTMAS COOKIE MURDER (Kensington 2011), WEDDING DAY MURDER (Kensington 2011), MOTHER'S DAY MURDER (Kensington 2010) and more!

April 13, 2014

BELLA FORTUNA

by: Rosanna Chiofalo
Publisher: Kensington
Published: August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback (304 pages)
ISBN: 9780758266538
Origin: Publisher

My Look:

Valentina DeLuca isn't popular. In fact, she doesn't have many friends at all. Her father passed away at a young age. Valentina's mother, Olivia DeLuca, worries about her daughters—especially Valentina. Olivia worries even more because she spends long hours at her bridal boutique leaving less time for her daughters.

Meanwhile, her childhood crush sees her as nothing more than a youngster, but Michael saved her from humiliation several times. At a dance, he danced with her, and for the first time, Valentina begins to think maybe he's realizes there's more to her than the child he's used to rescuing. She looses sight of him and tries desperately to quell hope that Michael does have feelings for her. The same kind of feeling she has for him.

However, on the way home, Valentina comes across Tracey with another boy.

Part of her cringes because she's heard the rumors milling about of her best friend, but to see this public display is only going to cause more people to call her "loose." She hurries by the clinging couple not to cause embarrassment but when she sees the guy, Valentina can barely breathe. Tracey catches her eye and instead of trying to explain, looking guilty, or even separating from the boy, Tracey gives a devilish smile and seizes Michael's mouth again.

Valentina tries to stay away from her mother, once she arrives home. Olivia DeLuca will question why she so upset and now Valentina can't talk about it. She knows Olivia DeLuca never really trusted Tracey and Valentina's too embarrassed to admit she was right all along.

The years go by and Valentina grows up. As a grown woman, she winds up with a second chance with her childhood love. Soon, she will marry Michael. The house is bought, the dress is designed, and the gifts have begun to arrive. However, this is only the beginning of Valentina's and Olivia's stories.

My Take:

In Rosanna Chiofalo's BELLA FORTUNA you will visit New York and Italy in the past and present.

You'll discover how fortune and time rips apart and brings together and learn what second chances are all about. You'll come to know the DeLucas, at the same time some of them come to know themselves, and you'll recognize their neighbors and feel like you live near them too.

From quirky neighbors to tragedy and misunderstanding, you'll find love and romance—even though love and romance aren't always where you'd expect to find them.

Rosanna Chiofalo creates lively characters, a compelling read, and gives us recipes too!

BELLA FORTUNA is a heady mix of life, love, history, and the unexpected. Although this is a standalone title, I'm sure you'll be anxious for Rosanna Chiofalo's next read, CARISSIMA (Kensington August 2013)!

April 6, 2014

DEATH OF A KITCHEN DIVA

by: Lee Hollis
Publisher: Kensington
Published: March 6, 2012
Format: Paperback (304 pages)
ISBN: 9780758267375
Series: A Hayley Powell Food and Cocktail Mystery
Origin: Publisher

My Look:

Hayley Powell is not having the greatest of days.

While readying for her first date in years, since her divorce, she spills sauce on her dress. Moreover, her make-up artist packs on the stuff thick enough that even her daughter tells her to clean it off or walk around looking like a cheap hooker, and when her doorbell chimes, her day is about to turn deadly.

In front of the handsome date, Hayley is arrested for murder!

Karen Applebaum, is the other food columnist in town, or at least she was before Hayley discovers her face down in New England Style Clam Chowder. Why did she open her email on that day?

The real trouble started a few weeks back, when Karen perpetrated a couple of scenes with Hayley; it was about Hayley's new column. Karen Applebaum works for the rival newspaper, and she is not pleased with the unexpected popularity of Hayley's new food column, even Hayley's boss has been shocked by the instant success. Her boss had branded what she had turned in as not publishable, but since he wanted to fish, he let it go "as is" with a stiff warning to Hayley.

However, the readership reaction was contagious, leaving Karen seething. Very publicly, Karen accused Hayley of stealing her recipe for Maine Crab Stuffed Mushrooms.

As the whole market watched their exchange, Hayley tried to explain the recipe was in her family for years, but Karen Applebaum wouldn't stop insisting. So, later, when Hayley opened Karen's email, she wasn't greeted with the venom that Karen taught her to expect. Instead, Karen issued an invitation and an apology. To correct this rife, Karen invited her over to talk.

Hayley could not refuse; she hated the drama and wanted nothing more than to end it. Unfortunately, someone else ended it with poison; it is up to Hayley to save herself from the charge of murder.

My Take:

In the DEATH OF A KITCHEN DIVA, Lee Hollis (brother and sister writing team) brings a very contemporary cozy to life and breathes a quirky breath into the name-dropping, Hayley Powell.

Hayley is a lady who's well in tune with today's culture and constantly sees parallels that most people wouldn't catch, making her descriptions down right funny and extremely accurate. With her ability to put pieces together and a determination to save herself, Haley makes a great sleuth.

Lee Hollis' debut mystery, DEATH OF A KITCHEN DIVA, is one you will enjoy, and it includes recipes too. I know that you'll want to check out the other books in the Hayley Powell Mysteries DEATH OF A COUNTRY FRIED REDNECK (Kensington Nov 2012), DEATH OF A COUPON CLIPPER (Kensington July 2013), and DEATH OF A CHOCOHOLIC (Kensington January 2014)!

March 30, 2014

TREACHEROUS SLOPES

by: Terri Reed
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Published: February 4, 2014
Format: Paperback (224 pages)
ISBN: 9780373445837
Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (egalley)

My Look:

Julie Frost gains a chance for promotion, from production assistant to on camera personality, if her interview with her former high school crush goes well. Dressed in stylish not sensible clothing, Julie was half-frozen talking with a television audience while waiting for the final event that would choose the Olympic team for the Freestyle Aerial Ski Jumping set. However, the man who was about to take to the air was the local favorite and her school days distraction. Although she was filled with excitement, she knew this man had never noticed her before and would be off to bigger and better things afterward. It was key to keep herself guarded, professional, and detached during this promotional interview.

She watched him take to the air, but something just seemed off. Soon, his ski was gone, and he was going down. It was hard to remember to be a reporter as she raced to see if he was alive. How could his parents lose both children to ski accidents?

Nick Walsh felt the adrenaline rush many times over, but he also knew someone wanted him dead. With this hard landing, someone could get his or her wish. The air whooshed out of him, and his head felt almost disconnected, when a rush of people came to him.

The vision in pink he knew from years gone by. Why was Jules here?

Of course, his manager was thrilled he wasn't dead like Cody, but this close one only heaped more guilt on Nick over his brother's death. Had he not made that last jump trying to imitate him, his brother would still be here to go for the gold. Everybody had expected it would be brother verses brother going for the gold. However, it would be brother going for his brother, now. And it was somebody's desire to stop him.

He didn't consider the woman in pink his enemy until he found out she was a reporter. Those people are breeds that watch their ratings go up as their lens focused on bringing someone down. Even the dead was not protected from their subterfuge. The rumor mill churned with charges of made-up drug abuse to sully his brother's reputation. It didn't matter how beautiful this woman was; she wasn't going to use him or his brother to get ratings. However, his sponsor put together this interview, and he would have to tread slowly.

He hadn't planned to tell her about the death threats or the actual attempts on his life, but he didn't have to. The person doing this has thrown her into the crosshairs with him.

My Take:

Terri Reed's TREACHEROUS SLOPES starts off with the Olympic adrenaline rush, keys up the suspense, and creates romance in the process!

This heroine is not only a reporter but does a great job at amateur sleuthing too. I could see her staring in her own series with a town of tourists for victims discovered by the roving reporter. She's caring, considerate, and is just trying to make it on her own as a reporter with vision and scruples. Julie Frost lost her mother and understands grief, but she seems to be getting along better with her stepfather who now wants a family more than a career.

Inside Nick Walsh, you'll find a hurting man who blames himself for his brother's death and projects his guilt onto his mother and father. He's a believer who has lost his way but being back home has him face the truth about himself, his family, and his faith. His reason for going for the gold isn't what it once was, and he is realizing that where he is at isn't where he should be. However, he needs to finish this Olympic walk for Cody, and not even a murderer is going to change his path. However, his walk easily intersects with what he wants his future to become.

TREACHEROUS SLOPES by Terri Reed is a suspense filled standalone title that will have you head to the summer Olympics reading more books by this author such as the COWBOY TARGET (Love Inspired Suspense 2013) and THE DOCTOR'S DEFENDER (Love Inspired Suspense 2012) just to name a few!

A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

ALONG CAME TROUBLE
originally posted: March 23, 2014

by: Erin Kern
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hachette Book Group)
Published: November 19, 2013
Format: ebook (432 pages)
Series: Trouble
Origin: Publisher through NetGalley, (eGalley)

My Look:

Brody McDermott has a son, is divorced, and runs a family restaurant that is failing. He is well aware that his father is near to kicking him to the curb. What else can go wrong?

Unfortunately, for Brody, more is going to happen.

His ex-wife's mother is elderly and ill, and his ex and her husband may have to move three states away with Brody's son. Now, this man already carries the burden of the failed marriage, the enormous amount of time he was buried at work and didn't spend with his son, Tyler, and now the possibility of really losing him. His decision to move, if need be, to be with his son comes easy, but everything else gets harder, once he meets Elisa.

Elisa Cardoso is a photographer who is waiting for her big break. A former teacher keeps in touch and promises to call, if he can ever use her for his work at National Geographic, but she needs income, now. Living in Trouble Wyoming provides beautiful panoramic views but nothing much in the way of a career. However, she does manage to make some money doing food photography. It doesn't take her long to figure out this dying eatery would and could change her life. Brody seems to wake something inside of her. Yeah, she did the hard breakup thing and swore she'd never give her heart. However, her hormones are refusing to listen to the heartbreak song. Will she be sorry?

My Take:

Erin Kern's ALONG CAME TROUBLE is a heart-wrenching romance where all the pieces refuse to fit into place. Can they have it all or will having it all cause them pain?

It was different to meet Brody McDermott first and have his story told in detail, but then add Elisa to the mix and you'll find yourself hoping these two have more than sparks. However, getting to the ever after seems to not be happening.

At times, I found myself wanting Brody to get out of his own way, but during other times, I found myself wanting Elisa not to risk it in Trouble. In so many ways, I figured heartbreak was sure to come. Brody is a man who is sensitive but hides it, while Elisa wants to be strong but really doesn't have the armor she tries to wear. Be warned, these two definitely will get hurt.

However, sometimes what isn't right isn't always wrong.

I liked Brody, and I found his family endearing. Elisa took a while to really get to know, but I liked her early on. She's selfless, loving, and just not sure about her future. Maybe we all can relate to not knowing where we are meant to be and when we are meant to be there. Short on family, she easily makes friends, but when her heart is exposed, she's scared of more scars.

ALONG CAME TROUBLE by Erin Kern is a romance that is different from most but is lovable just the same!


THE WORLD BENEATH
originally posted: March 9, 2014

by: Rebecca Cantrell
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Published: January 10, 2014
Format: ebook (315 pages)
Series: Joe Tesla
Origin: Recommendation

My Look:

Most would agree that Joe Tesla is a successful millionaire. After all, his company made today's facial recognition abilities possible, but Joe's success seems to have become stymied by fear. Those who know Joe know he doesn't relent to people or governmental agencies, but those who know Joe, now, call him everything but brave.

Joe doesn't even understand how this happened.

One day he was normal and one morning he was too scared to go outside. The doctors call it one thing while his former colleagues call it something totally different. Unfortunately, he agrees with most of them, during most times.

Agoraphobia is known to occur, but it didn't occur to him until one day, after one night, a couple of drinks, and a government agency fight later. He's been trying to piece out this puzzle, but he's also been learning to adjust to life inside and outside his old Victorian home. Joe's Victorian is a home inside one of the many connected underground tunnels of New York City. It's owned by a family friend of his and much to her brother's dismay, Joe stays here. There are many secrets held in these tunnels and with his penchant for a puzzle he puts things together to distract him from the knot in his mind barring him from the world outside. He often studies and explores these amazing places.

At least, he did until he meets Subject 523, known also as Rebar.

It was kind of normal to meet strange people underground, and Rebar seemed to be some form of military by stance and speech but one look at this man labeled him homeless. However, he wasn't just down here looking for a place to stay, this man was taking down a tunnel wall by sledgehammer, and the pieces he already removed seemed to expose yet another part of the tunnel. This man was so intent on his task he didn't mind Joe watching him. Also, when the wall fell, he wasn't at all surprised by his discovery. On the other hand, Joe's astonishment leads Rebar to realize Joe wasn't in on it with him and up comes the hammer. Joe takes off running.

What Joe Tesla couldn't know was that his nightmare of running doesn't end, it just stops for a bit and reloads. Like in some gamer's paradise, at every turn, something else is to happen and others will join in the fun.

The rest of this nightmare begins when Joe Tesla couldn't just forget about what he saw in that exposed wall. He went back to poke around, but discovered his former threat as demolished as those bricks, and a new threat sends Joe and his dog Edison running for their lives, with even more questions.

How many people know of this secret? How many of them want Joe dead?

My Take:

THE WORLD BENEATH by Rebecca Cantrell is a heart-pounding thriller with an infective puzzle!

Rebecca Cantrell brings to life the amazing world beneath the sidewalks of New York. Her character, Joe Tesla, is a down-to-earth computer geek who struck it rich but maintains his giving heart; his kindness and affection for people shows through in all of what he does, while his resourcefulness will astound you. Joe doesn't need his wallet to solve a problem, his brain doesn't work that way. Give the guy a can of beer and some Wi-Fi, and he could literally change he way you see the world around you. He uses his powers for good not evil, even though everything he does is not exactly lawful.

Joe Tesla lives the story of many, but his world holds more dangers than these panic attacks induce. With him and Edison, you'll be racing the clock to find answers that can save thousands of lives, but his adversaries come out of the walls within the ranks of government bureaucracy, having more pull than any imagination could muster.

Rebecca Cantrell's THE WORLD BENEATH is a virtual page-turner!

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

A book reviewer, mum, dog mom, cat mom, wife, and lover of good food who is always on a diet! http://about.me/EleanorAnders

Reviewing great reads direct from publishers including: Kensington Books, Forever Romance (imprint of Grand Central Publishing), B&H Publishers, Barbour Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (through Blogging for Books), Bell Bridge Books, Tyndale (through Tyndale Blog Network), and others.

Come visit me on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and *Wordpress at www.http://eleanoranders.wordpress.com *Finalist in the Independent Book Blogger Awards for Adult Fiction: See the announcement here: http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/362-independent-book-blogger-awards-winners-revealed