Friday, July 31, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Crushing Depths" by Dani Pettrey

Book Summary (Amazon): When an accident claims the life of an oil-rig worker on the first drilling platform off the North Carolina coast, Coast Guard investigators Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are sent to take the case. Tensions surrounding the oil rig are high and the death has everyone on edge. Environmental activists are threatening to do whatever it takes to stop the structure from being completed, while rumors are being whispered about ancient curses surrounding this part of the ocean.

Mounting evidence shows the death may not have been an accident at all. Was he killed by one of the activists or, perhaps more frighteningly, a member of his own crew? Rissi and Mason have to sort through not only a plethora of suspects, but also their own past and attraction to each other.

Just as the case seems like it'll break open, worse news arrives. A tropical storm has turned their way and soon they're cut off from any rescue--and right where the killer wants them. It's a race to discover his identity before he eliminates the threat they pose.

My thoughts...I enjoyed the overall plot of this second book in the Coastal Guardian series. There were two mysteries/suspenseful story lines. With two separate plot lines that intertwined the characters, there was a heightened level of action. The continuous pace made the book hard to put down. The romantic tension among the cast of characters was great and added a softer element to the story. I particularly loved Mason and Rissi's story. You learn a little bit about these two characters in the previous book in the series, and book two picks right up at the end of book one. As expected, "The Crushing Depths" has a large cast of characters, some with similar names ("Chase" and "Jayce") and at times it was a mental work out to keep up with them all. This was not a surprise to me (all of the books I've read by Pettrey are like this) and didn't keep me from wanting to read the book, but I was definitely tempted to grab a piece of paper and jot down who was who. Throughout the story there were questions I wanted to know the answer to: Who was the killer? What was the motive? These questions were answered, but not in the way I anticipated. That made for an interesting ending. But it was wrapped up rather quickly. All of the tension, excitement, and quick pace came to a halt with a somewhat undramatic ending, in my opinion, and when I finished I thought, "Did I read that right?" I may go back and read it again, just to see if I missed something. Overall, though, I would recommend the novel for those that like this genre and I plan to continue reading the rest of the books in the series as they come out. 

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinion, which I did.**

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Under Scottish Stars" by Carla Laureano

Book Summary (Amazon): Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses on her children to the exclusion of her career, her art, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, it’s a chance to dust off her long-ignored business skills and make a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending . . . and incredibly attractive.

Malcolm Blake gave up everything—his home, his girlfriend, and his career—to return to Skye and raise his late sister’s teenage daughter. With few job opportunities available on the island, he signs on as the manager of the MacDonald family hotel, which he’s soon running successfully without interference from the owners. That is, until Serena shows up, challenging his authority and his conviction that there’s nothing missing from his new life on Skye.

Before long, Serena and Malcolm have to admit the spark between them is more than mere irritation. But as single parents, there’s more on the line than their own hearts. Will their commitment to family be the thing that draws them together or the only thing that could keep them apart?

My thoughts...The much anticipated third book in Carla Laureano's Isle of Skye novels is here! I really enjoyed Serena and Malcolm's story. I would describe Laureano's style as real life drama with a faith perspective. The characters in this story go through difficulties that many readers can relate to. The romantic tension was great as well, and the characters acknowledged the temptations that come with romantic attraction in a way that still keeps it a clean read. I appreciated that these aspects were written into the story because it's frustrating at times to read characters deal with situations with a less than realistic response. I appreciated the way each main character's backstory complimented the other. Serena is a widow with two young children who has been through a lot of difficult circumstances in her previous life. Malcolm has never been married, but is raising his niece and learning the aspects of fatherhood. Through his experience with his niece, he has learned what it means to sacrifice his own desires for the needs of others, particularly when it comes to the needs of the children in his life. It created a lot of sweet moments in the story that I enjoyed. And last, but not least, the story takes place in Scotland. And the hero is Scottish. Enough said : ). 

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Love's Mountain Quest" by Misty M. Beller

Book summary (Amazon): Young widow Joanna Watson is struggling to make a new home for her five-year-old son, Samuel, in the little mountain town of Settler's Fort. When she returns home from work to find Samuel and the woman watching him missing, with no lawman in town, she enlists a man she prays has enough experience in this rugged country to help.

Isaac Bowen wants nothing more than a quiet, invisible life in these mountains, far away from the bad decisions of his past. But he has a strong suspicion of who's behind the kidnapping, and if he's right, he knows all too well the evil they're chasing.

As they press on against the elements, Joanna fights to hold on to hope, while Isaac knows a reckoning is coming. They find encouragement in the tentative trust that grows between them, but whether it can withstand the danger and coming confrontation is far from certain in this wild, unpredictable land.

My thoughts...From page one, this novel was action packed. The plot centers around the perilous "quest" the two main characters go on to rescue Joanna' son and friend. There's some good backstory connection between Isaac and the kidnappers that added a lot to the story and the hero's faith journey. I like the way that Misty doesn't shy away from writing more intense details, whether it be romantic or dangerous circumstances. She didn't sugarcoat the experiences of the two young people taken captive, which helped build the plot's intensity. This also helped make the story stand out among other novels that have similar plot lines. This is only my second book by Misty M. Beller, my first being the first book in this series, and I have been really impressed by her originality and style of writing. I look forward to reading more of her books and have already started building a collection of some of her previous novels on my Kindle. 

**I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "A Bride of Convenience" by Jody Hedlund

Book Summary (Amazon): Unemployed mill worker Zoe Hart jumps at the opportunity to emigrate to British Columbia in 1863 to find a better life and be reunited with her brother, who fled from home after being accused of a crime.

Pastor to miners in the mountains, Abe Merivale discovers an abandoned baby during a routine visit to Victoria and joins efforts with Zoe, one of the newly arrived bride-ship women, to care for the infant. While there, he's devastated by the news from his fiancee in England that she's marrying another man.

With mounting pressure to find the baby a home, Zoe accepts a proposal from a miner of questionable character after he promises to help her locate her brother. Intent on protecting Zoe and frustrated by his failed engagement, Abe offers his own hand as groom. After a hasty wedding, they soon realize their marriage of convenience is not so convenient after all.

My thoughts...This series just keeps getting better and better! I really enjoyed Zoe and Abe's story. Something that particularly stood out to me was the inner conflict between the two of them as they build a relationship from a marriage of convenience. Abe's position as a pastor had a personal connection as my own husband is a pastor. A lot of the things Abe struggled with are relevant struggles today. I also liked that from the beginning you get to see that Abe is a man of God, but he's also a man with real desires and struggles. It made his character much more believable and helped with the development of the tension.The things that Zoe struggled with related to Abe's position I could very much connect to. I loved the way that Zoe doesn't waste time judging others but shows God's love to everyone. 
The romantic tension between the two main characters almost made me I would consider romantic tension one of Jody Hedlund's writing specialties. But it doesn't stop there. The detailed descriptions of every person and place helped me visualize every part of the book so clearly. A few twists and turns in the plot rounded out an enjoyable reading experience. While you can read this book as a standalone, I would highly recommend the other books in the series. 

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion, which I gave.**