This summer has been good to the romantic suspense genre … we’re only halfway through the season and this bumper crop of sexy nail-biters is guaranteed to keep your bookshelves and e-readers smoking hot.
Deadlock by Cherrie Lynn
I’m a sucker for any stories about hackers, considering I’m married to a network security guy. Cherrie Lynn’s new Hacker World series caught my attention right off the bat, and I found the first book, Deadlock, to be engaging and a great start for a new series. Jace Adams was screwed over in college by Lena Morris in a betrayal that led to his expulsion from MIT but settled into a covert team of misfits who test government system vulnerabilities (rather than going to jail). When her twin sister, Lindsey, shows up one day to ask him to find the missing Lena, he’s faced with a huge dilemma. Times are desperate, the complex story has good twists and turns, and the chemistry between Jace and Lindsey is great. My only complaint is the cliffhanger, which I typically don’t like … I like a story to wrap up definitively at the end, even if it’s a long-running series. Guess I’ll have to check out the next installment.
Her Deadly Secrets by Laura Griffin
Laura Griffin is back with another dark tale of suspense, Her Deadly Secrets. Kira Vance is a private investigator with a penchant for fact and low tolerance for bullshit. “The truth cut both ways, and that’s what she liked about it.” Well, so do secrets. When Kira swings by the house of a big client to talk to her boss who she knows is there, a masked gunman attacks. When the smoke clears, her boss is dead and it’s clear someone is now gunning for Kira, too. As usual, Griffin crafts an intelligent story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, one that’s liberally peppered with fast-paced plot twists and compelling characters. Her heroines are admirable in their capability, and in this instance we get a two-for-one on female badassery: not only is Kira a formidable force, so is Detective Charlotte Spears. And add in a healthy dash of security expert Jeremy Owens and you’ve got a masterpiece. Kira and Jeremy have great chemistry and their interactions actually made me smile. This is a great story, but I gotta tell you: in the end, I just love how her mind works.
Her Other Secret by HelenKay Dimon
HelenKay Dimon kicked off her new Whitaker Island series with a sexy suspense that’s got a hot dude in glasses on the cover, Her Other Secret. Glasses! I cracked open this book with a smile that quickly dropped once I got into the story. Dimon always crafts an exciting suspense but manages to do it without always relying on the heroes being super soldiers, mercenaries or law enforcement. By the time the story begins, Tessa Jenkins and Hansen Rye have already developed a friendship (albeit an adversarial one) and are circling their attraction, so it’s no surprise when they actually get together. Their chemistry is hot, and it’s good they have each other once murder victims begin to show up on their isolated island. The book may allude to her other secret, but Hansen’s got secrets out the wazoo.
True Gold by Michelle Pace
I was drawn to Michelle Pace’s True Gold because it’s set in True, Alaska—and the cover is beautiful—but enjoyed it because of the story. I had a terrible accident a few years ago that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and about three weeks of memory loss. Since then, I’m fascinated by stories with characters who struggle with memory. True Gold really takes place over about a ten-year period, starting with Delilah Campbell and Connor Garrett were teenagers and in love. After a bad breakup and life happening in the interim decade, they’re still drawn to each other when Delilah needs Connor’s help in finding her missing mother (which tells you they had a lot to build on to begin with). There are a lot of characters, and a lot of explaining (because the story is complex, both in terms of the timespan and flashbacks, and Delilah’s period of amnesia), and it’ll run you through the emotional wringer, but it’s good. This was my first romance from Pace, and I’ll definitely check out more of her stuff.
Bishop’s Knight by Katie Reus
The first book in Katie Reus’s new Endgame trilogy, Bishop’s Knight, introduces us to the three Bishop siblings and what promises to be a thrilling jolt of adrenaline. Evie Bishop is an undercover badass who’s put in her years of service in black ops work and retired after a particularly harrowing job. Only, life doesn’t always go the way you want it to, and when her former partner turns up injured, Evie has no choice but to get help from the man she loved and walked away from, Dylan Blackwood. Dylan is ex-military, and when he proposed to her a year ago, he had no idea Evie worked for the CIA. But everybody’s got secrets, and sometimes you’ve got to put aside your emotions to get shit done. Imagine his surprise, though, when he discovers she’s no spoiled princess. Included in the fallout from the Jensen op are her two brothers: one missing and the other in a coma. I can’t wait to see how their stories unfold!
Traitor Games by Sidney Bristol
Don’t miss Traitor Games from Sidney Bristol, the third book in her Tarnished Heroes series, releasing July 22. I loved the first two books in this covert CIA series, Spy Games and Assassin Games, both reflecting the fast-paced, sexy danger I’ve come to associate with her style.
Covert Vengeance by Kaylea Cross
I’ll close out this summer highlight with another cautionary tale about hackers, Covert Vengeance. Kaylea Cross has built a terrific series about covert government agency called the Valkyrie, made up of elite women who follow the motto, Loyal Unto Death. I mean, come on! Amber Brown is the dangerous assassin and hacker in this installment, and she’s not only on the path to retribution after being left for dead by her team, she’s on the run from gun for hire Jesse Cordova. This releases July 30, so add it to your list!