I don’t know about you, but at my house, the year is zipping along at a breakneck pace. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the abundance of April showers in central North Carolina and the May flowers it would bring … and this week it’s been in the nineties leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. It’s hot, y’all, but fortunately I like my temperatures as hot as I like my romantic suspenses. Here’s a round-up of some of my favorites:
Mine to Protect by Kennedy L. Mitchell
Kennedy L. Mitchell’s Mine to Protect has an eerie, old-school thriller feel to it that grabs your attention in the first chapter. I mean, I was yelling at my Kindle during the Prologue, and the first sentence of the first chapter set the tone for the whole book: Someone was watching me. Estes Park in Colorado, nestled in the beautiful and rugged Rocky Mountain National Park, is such a serene setting—so at odds with the menacing serial killer leading FBI agent Cas Mathews and Rocky Mountain Park police officer Alta Johnson on a nail-biting chase. Character development was richly established, and the romance was set to slow burn. It’s a little long, though it doesn’t suffer from any lag because of it. It’s written in alternating first person POV, which is never my favorite, but in this case it’s used as another tool for ratcheting up the tension fortunately it worked. If you haven’t read any of Mitchell’s books yet, I encourage you to check them out. She’s a great storyteller. She lists Sandra Brown among her influences, and that seasoned, classic stalker feel shines through.
Hide and Seek by Mary Burton
Hide and Seek is the first book in Mary Burton’s Criminal Profiler series, and it is breathtaking. I’m never a fan of books or movies that have bad guys who break in while you’re sleeping – it’s just too real – and this suspense kicks off with just that very scenario. But rather than covering my eyes and peeking out through cracks in my fingers like I would for a movie, I boldly read this book with gusto. Sheriff Mike Nevada has, quite possibly, one of the best literary names ever. And as a character, he’s pretty pristine, too. He’s a former profiler with the FBI, and rather than relaxing into the peaceful house he’d inherited from his grandfather in the little town of Deep Run (and the life that should’ve accompanied it), he finds himself the elected sheriff weeks after closing out his life with the Feds. FBI Special Agent Macy Crow is a holdover from Cut and Run, and I was happy to see where she landed after her traumatic accident. She and Mike had a thing once, but because of their jobs ended it on good terms … so they have a great rapport, even if it’s a little strained in the beginning. They’re both all business when it comes to investigating a thirty-year old murder that points toward a serial killer who’s still at it. As usual, Burton is on her suspense A-game. I just like the way her mind works; she tells a great story. Reader be aware, though, that this serial killer is also a rapist, so if it’s a trigger for you, try some of Burton’s other books.
Taken by Rebecca Zanetti
Rebecca Zanetti has a great mid-series novella offering (she’s labeling 1.5), Taken, from her sexy Deep Ops world. It’s a second-chance love story with a big, hunky ex-marine river guide, reconnecting with the only woman he’s ever loved who left him five years ago. Hunter Holt and Faye Smith grew up in foster care with an amazing woman named Miss Angelina, who is a great influence on the lives of the kids she raised. She sends Faye in search of Hunter so they can retrieve one of her current foster kids who’s been led astray by an older woman and taken him on a cross-country tare, a la Bonnie and Clyde. There’s also the possibility that the kid is Hunter’s brother. So, there’s that. Hunter and Faye have time on their hands while tracking Lucas, and are able to unpack much of the baggage that broke them apart; it’s heartbreaking, but fortunately not deal-breaking. You can count on Zanetti’s iconic fast-paced suspense and well-developed characters.
Deadly Obsessions by April Hunt
April Hunt could open a male-order catalogue just by the heroes on the covers of her books. Imagine if any of those dudes from the Alpha Security or Steele Ops series actually delivered the books to your doorstop? Sigh. Deadly Obsession kicks off the new Steele Ops series with a bang, and one of my favorite tropes: best friend’s younger sister. Having grown up the only child of an only child, and having only had one child myself, I’m fascinated by the idea of an older brother being protective. I should say I’m also fascinated by the idea of walking into an elite private security firm because I’m a badass CSI agent, but that’s about as likely to happen as waking up one day with an older brother. LOL. Zoey Wright is a very compelling character. Not only did she grow up crushing heavily on Knox Steele, but she is a fighter. Born with a heart defect and enduring numerous major surgeries, adult Zoey has overcome so much to become a CSI agent. But when Knox walks up on her first murder scene—during what is part of a serial killer investigation—he definitely sees the woman she’s become. The stakes are high, emotions boiling over, and romance incredibly satisfying.
Prince of Killers by Layla Reyne
Layla Reyne is new to me, but she had me in the first chapter with a hot guy in a Canadian tuxedo. Well, that and the setup: this is a story about an organization of assassins. Prince of Killers is the first installation of her new Fog City series, and this steamy suspense was a great initiation to this self-processed ‘displaced Tar Heel.’ Set in the mean streets of San Francisco, there’s an old school feel to the suspense, yet with its sexy two main characters—Hawes Madigan, the Prince of Killers, and Dante Perry, a private investigator—it’s very much a modern romance. Hawes is on the cusp of taking over the family business because his grandfather is in declining health, but someone in his organization wants to kill him. And needing to rely on Dante doesn’t sit well with Hawes or his people. The action is fast, the suspense enjoyable, and the romance addictive. I’m already looking forward to the second book.