Saturday, January 30, 2016

Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: FATAL TRUTH by Misty Evans

Fatal Truth
by Misty Evans
Shadow Force International, #1

She’s an investigative reporter who lives to uncover the truth.

Feisty television host, Savanna Bunkett, exposes government coverups on her award-winning show, The Bunk Stops Here. When she digs into a rumor about a top secret government project that's producing “super soldiers” for the president, she suddenly finds herself on an assassin’s hit list. 

He's the man who knows the truth.

Navy SEAL Lieutenant Trace Hunter is the only soldier to survive Project 24. After refusing a direct order from the president, he was branded a traitor, and his career imploded after the sexy reporter turned him into a national headline. He now works undercover for Shadow Force International, a secret group of former SEALs helping those who have no where else to turn, using his enhanced skills to fight for justice and protect the innocent. His first assignment? Protect Savanna from the one man who wants them both dead—the president.

One wrong move and they’ll be silenced forever.

Helping Savanna is the last thing Trace wants to do, but her unwavering determination to expose the president's dark truth matches his own. She's his one chance to set the record straight and he’s her only chance at survival. When their mutual enemy closes in, can they put the past behind them and trust each other? Even if it means losing their hearts in the process? Or will secrets, lies, and forbidden passions cost them everything?

Buy Links: Amazon / Amazon UK / iBooks / Kobo / Barnes & Noble coming soon!

This is a lesson on giving an author a second chance. Last year I read a book by Misty Evans and gave it two stars, less for writing style, and more for what I perceived as unbelievable plot points.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to read Fatal Truth because this author comes roaring back with an entertaining romantic suspense read. I enjoyed Fatal Truth in the same way I would enjoy a Tom Clancy movie. There is plenty of drama; a mysterious, clandestine agency; a government conspiracy; and lots of action. 

Trace Hunter is arranged to be released from a high security prison and picked up by Rock Star Security, the legitimate division of Shadow Force International.  Shadow Force is a covert, special ops groups dedicated to helping those who have nowhere else to turn.  If The Equalizer had a supporting cast, Shadow Force would be it.  He is assigned to guard the very reporter who revealed his identity and accused him of being an enemy of the state.  

Savanna Bunkett is the news reporter dedicated to uncovering the many faces of corruption in the government and corporations.  She takes pride in exposing villains and standing up for the little guy. Unfortunately, one of her stories will expose the President's involvement in an illegal plan to create a private army of enhanced soldiers.  Now the President' is targeting her to shut her down.  

For me, one of the highlights of this story is Savannah Bunkett.  Savannah is not a kick-ass heroine.  She has no special physical skills and she's not a crack shot. But she is spunky, smart, and loyal to a fault.  Her tenacious desire to find and protect her sister, despite the President's attempts to the contrary, makes her a strong character.  She is a good complement to Trace, who is an enhance soldier and former assassin.  Believing he was working for what was morally right under the direction of the President, he in conflicted about this job when his boss, POTUS, turns out to be a corrupt ego-maniac. She is a nice foil with her friendly demeanor and open spirit to his closed personality and brooding looks.  I enjoyed their interaction and the development of their relationship. 

A robust story with an appealing couple, Fatal Truth is a fine start to a new series.

Trace climbed the stairs two at a time, the stairwell of the fancy apartment building empty at the dinner hour. Or maybe the rich snobs who lived here were too good to take the stairs.
He was two hours late. Not the best way to start his first assignment for Shadow Force International. Then again, he hadn’t planned to be working for Rock Star Security and shoved out the door and into the world of protection services so fast it had made his head spin.
The past couple of days had been a whirlwind. He’d struck out on his own, surviving the first Virginia night in an empty fishing shack with no heat or running water. Reese’s cheeseburger didn’t last long, and while the lake wasn’t frozen over and the owner had left some gear behind, Trace hadn’t been able to catch a damn thing.
The next morning, he’d stumbled through a snowstorm into Murder Creek, found the lone greasy spoon in town and ordered breakfast. The coffee was mud and the eggs were runny. He didn’t care. It was better than prison food any day.
The small 1980s TV in the corner was turned up, a weatherman dressed in a fancy suit waving at various colored blobs on the map and declaring the storm would intensify throughout the day and continue overnight. By the next morning, they were expected to have six feet of snow.
As Trace had finished his toast, a sheriff’s car had driven up. The two men who got out walked like military men, not cops. Before the bell over the door rang, he’d left the waitress a generous tip and disappeared out the back and into the woods.
His mother had always said he was as stubborn as the day was long, but he wasn’t an idiot. While there’d been nothing on the news about his escape from Witcher, he’d known the men in that car were looking for him. A storm was moving in that would lock down the area. He had no vehicle to get out and no supplies to hunker down and ride it out. 
He needed help.
Admitting that fact had taken every last ounce of his common sense, but now he was here. Beatrice had cleaned him up, made him shave his beard and cut his hair. 
Because of his specialized work for Command & Control, the agency had scrubbed his past years ago. Few pictures existed of him before his time in Iraq with SEAL Team 3, when he’d first grown his hair long and sported a thick beard to blend in with the locals. SEALs often needed out-of-the-Navy-box appearances on their assignments, and that was the picture Ms. Bunkett had spread all over America.
He was a squeaky-clean Boy Scout now, with colored contacts and new clothes—nice threads, not the usual camo gear he was used to. The only thing he hated was the fancy dress shoes.
Petit and Reese had put him through their version of basic protection service training, and Reese’s wife had explained all the ins and outs of his new job.
Beatrice. He was pretty sure that hadn’t been her name when she was in Command & Control, but it didn’t matter. She’d confirmed that she had played a part in getting him out of Witcher and that there were men looking for him. Nothing official on the news yet, the government wanting to keep his “escape” a secret and hoping they could find him and put him back before the public caught wind of the situation.
Petit and Reese hadn’t been happy when Beatrice insisted Trace take this assignment. They’d wanted more time to work on him, and they’d planned to send him out of the country on a Shadow Force assignment. Beatrice had other ideas, and neither man seemed eager to argue with her.
So here he was, playing bodyguard. A test run, Beatrice had called it. He’d kept himself in good shape inside Witcher, had kept his skills sharp. His enhancements from Project 24 had never faded.
Still, with a secret manhunt on for him, he had to stay in the shadows as much as possible. Beatrice had given him a set of rules to follow, briefed him on the client. Single female, twenty-eight, with a potential stalker. He was to keep an eye on her but not be obvious about it.
The stalker is high-profile, Beatrice had said. Has possibly harmed the client’s sister, but there’s no proof and the client can’t make public claims without evidence. We’d like you to investigate, see if you can incapacitate the stalker and discover the sister’s whereabouts.
The woman lived in the penthouse on the top floor. He climbed the last set of stairs and went through the fire door.
It was Beatrice’s fault he was late and she’d supposedly called ahead to let the client know. Still, Trace felt a shot of nervous adrenaline firing below his breastbone as he rang the doorbell. There was a marble-topped table near the elevator with an elaborate floral arrangement. A ficus tree sat in the corner under a skylight, and a large painting of the sun rising over a mountain range hung on the wall left of the door.
Seconds ticked by. He straightened his tie, smoothed the lapels of his suit coat, fiddled with the brim of his baseball hat.
The hat didn’t go with his outfit. He’d picked it up on his way over, feeling too exposed otherwise. Even with his change in appearance, he feared being recognized after Savanna Bunkett had done such a fine job of splashing his face all over the news a year and a half ago.
On the other side of the door, he heard a muffled voice, “Coming!”
A second later, the door swung open. The woman was out of breath, her hair swept up in a high ponytail. She was dressed in workout attire and a fine coating of sweat glistened on her ample cleavage as she wiped her face with a towel. The rhythmic beat of a drum, tambourine, and finger cymbals of Middle Eastern music echoed in the background.
From behind the towel, she said, “You must be…”
And then she moved the towel to her neck and met his gaze.
Oh, shit.
The towel stilled and the woman studied his face. “Coldplay?”
Trace felt frozen in place. In the briefing with Beatrice, she’d referred to the client only as Ms. Jeffries.
Ms. Jeffries, my ass.
His heart stuttered in his chest for a second. Even without makeup and her signature red power suit, she stood out like a diamond among glass. She was striking, her dark hair offsetting her pale skin, all of it softened by a delicate nose and high cheekbones. Workout clothes did nothing to dampen her natural, elegant demeanor.
Before him stood the woman who had ruined his life.
Trace took a step back. Waited…
She didn’t seem to recognize him.
One hand went to her hip. “Are you the strong, silent type or is this one of the rules, that you can’t speak to me? I must have missed that one in the contract.”
Why would she recognize me? She had one grainy photograph of me from six years ago, and I was nothing but a story to her.
Trace forced his mouth to work, struggled to get sound out. He tipped the brim of his hat down a little farther. “Sorry, I’m late.”
“Randy didn’t buzz me. How did you get in?”
Randy, the doorman. What a joke.
Trace shifted gears, forcing the anger boiling in his gut aside. As soon as he could get hold of Beatrice, all bets were off. “Security check of the building showed me some weak spots. I got in through a service door entrance on the first floor. I’ll speak to the manager tomorrow about beefing things up.”
She stepped back, using the towel on her arms. Long, slender arms with small wrists and finely-boned hands. “Come in. I’ll grab a shower and then we can talk about…my problem.”
Talk. Right. “I’ll stay out here at the door until you’re ready.”
“Um, okay. Sure.” She gave him another once over. “Have we met? You seem familiar.”
Met? Jesus God. “No, we’ve never met.” Not in person. If we had, I would have wrung your neck.
She gave him a small smile. “Even if we had, we have to pretend otherwise, right? Sorry, this is all new to me.”
He nodded and stepped back, grinding his teeth. She closed the door, leaving him alone in the penthouse hallway.
Counting to a hundred to give her time to get in the shower, he paced to the elevator doors, locked the thing down, then locked the door to the stairwell. He withdrew the cell phone Beatrice had provided and punched in her number.
She picked up on the first ring. “Yes?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
He forced himself to lower his voice. “Ms. Jeffries? Her name isn’t Jeffries and you know exactly who she is and what she did to me. If this is some kind of joke, I swear I’ll…I’ll…”
What would he do? The woman was smarter than smart and she was, well, a pregnant female.
A man, he would beat the shit out of for tricking him like this. But he would never hit a woman. “…I’ll beat up your husband.”
“You can try,” Beatrice said without concern. “What’s the problem?”
Trace nearly crushed the phone. “You know exactly what the problem is. You lied and set me up with the woman who crucified me.”
“I didn’t lie. Her real name is Savanna Jeffries-Bunkett, but she only goes by Savanna Bunkett for her show. Her mother, Doris Jeffries, is from the New Hampshire Jeffries, a Daughter of the Revolution, and a top-notch lawyer. Her father, Shawn Bunkett, is the president of a private Catholic college. Her sister Parker works for National Intelligence as a glorified profiler, you might say. Her job is rather vague and ill-defined. She has a degree in cognitive therapy and a knack for understanding how criminals work, which National Intelligence has found helpful. For reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet, Parker pulls together the president’s daily briefing and presents it to him. I doubt that has anything to do with her brain research, other than to profile a terrorist here and there. A month ago, she went missing. All I can get out of my sources is that she’s on assignment.” Her voice emphasized assignment. “Odds are there was something…personal…going on between her and the president, or he gave her a black op job and she got caught.”
Linc Norman. The president sure liked to spread himself around.
The sound of a fridge door opening came from Beatrice’s end. “Who do you think passed your file—the bogus one—to Savanna?”
Trace took off his hat and scratched his hairline. “The sister?”
“If my guess is accurate, and I am correct ninety-nine percent of the time, Parker received the file outlining your rogue activities from the president.” 
A patient silence descended, as if she were waiting for him to connect the dots. A possible scenario spilled out without too much brainpower. “Linc Norman told Parker to make sure Savanna broke the story.”
“Parker is missing. The president is stalking Savanna. It adds up, only we don’t know exactly why. Norman is now keeping tabs on Savanna, no doubt fearing she’ll reveal her suspicions to the world that he’s made Parker disappear. She doesn’t have any facts—yet—and President Norman hopes to keep it that way.”
“What am I supposed to do about it?”
“I don’t suppose you want to tell me why the president had you branded a traitor on national television?”
When he didn’t respond, she went on. “Well, consider this your chance to prove to Savanna that you’re not a traitor and that her intel from President Norman was bogus.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Find her sister. And if the president is the one who threw your ass in prison, who better to have on your side than an investigative reporter with a fan base of six million viewers? She can clear your name, Coldplay. Think about it.”
He was thinking all right. Thinking his former job as a cleaner for the president might put Savanna Jeffries Bunkett in more danger than she was already in.
“She can also help you dig up dirt to blackmail Linc Norman,” Beatrice went on. He heard the clink of silverware against a bowl. “So he stops trying to kill you.”
Trace returned the hat to his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. “You set me up.”
“I did,” Beatrice admitted freely. “In so doing, I also gave you a way out of the mess you’re in. I don’t care about your past and the things you’ve done, but it would solidify your job with Shadow Force International if you’re not a hunted felon.”
His past was not something to be proud of, Navy SEAL or not. He’d killed for his country, sure, but his job as a cleaner went beyond that. While once he’d believed he was doing the morally right thing, helping the president wipe out threats to America, he was no longer sure there was such a thing as morally right. “Savanna is already suspicious. Even with the change in my appearance, she suspects we’ve met.”
“So come clean. Tell her the truth. She needs you and you need her. Besides, she signed a contract.”
So did I. Every employee of Shadow Force International, whether they worked as bodyguards for Rock Star Security, performed search and rescue missions, or assisted on kidnapping cases, were required to sign one. If he breached his agreement, he was out in the cold again.
Petit planned to put Trace in charge of a team. If things worked out. Even if they didn’t hold him to his contract, bailing on his first assignment would hardly help his cause. He’d never make team leader if they couldn’t depend on him.
Did he even care? He wasn’t a team player anymore. Couldn’t endanger anyone else.
“Follow the procedure I gave you and think about it overnight,” Beatrice said. “If you wish to terminate the assignment in the morning, I’ll find someone else to guard Ms. Bunkett.”
A growl formed in his throat. Beatrice’s logic was so…so…logical. Be the hero again. Keep someone safe. Solve all your problems.
If only it were that easy.
Didn’t matter. He couldn’t complete this assignment without risking his freedom. Morning was nearly twelve hours away. Could he keep Savanna Bunkett from figuring out who he was in the meantime?
The woman was a bloodhound when she picked up the scent of a story. Sure, it had been eighteen months since she’d run his, and she’d had plenty of stories since then, but she wasn’t one to forget a name or a face for long, he bet. “She’ll terminate the assignment before morning.”
“You can’t hide forever,” Beatrice said. “And there’s only so much I can do to keep you off the grid. This is your chance to clear your name. Don’t blow it.”
The line went dead.
Trace braced one hand against the wall and sighed. Twelve hours. He had twelve fucking hours to keep up this charade, and then what? Bail?
He’d never quit a job in his life—except the last order from the president—and he wasn’t about to do so now. If Savanna figured out who he was and called the police, he’d have to, but until then, he’d lay low and plan for the worst case scenario.
…clear your name.
Pocketing the phone, he shook the ridiculous idea from his brain and walked back down the hall to wait.
He’d follow procedure like Beatrice had instructed him to when she gave him the assignment. Scan Savanna’s apartment for bugs, make sure her windows and doors were all secure. Check her personal security system. Then he’d stand guard for the night.
By morning—if he made it that long—he’d have a plan of escape.
Or one that would take down the president of the United States.

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

The books in her Super Agent series have won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award, CAPA nominations, the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.

Her Witches Anonymous series was dubbed a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read. The Super Agent Series, Witches Anonymous Series, and the Kali Sweet Series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle bestsellers lists. Her culinary romantic mystery, THE SECRET INGREDIENT, and the first book in her Deadly series, DEADLY PURSUIT, are both USA TODAY bestsellers.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

Connect with Misty:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Newsletter / Pinterest

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review, Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: HARD EVER AFTER by Laura Kaye

Hard Ever After - Review & Excerpt Tour Banner

We are over the moon excited to bring you the Review & Excerpt Tour for Laura Kaye’s HARD EVER AFTER, a novella in Laura’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Hard Ink Series releasing February 2, 2016

Hard Ever After - cover

Hard Ever After
by Laura Kaye
Hard Ink #4.6

About the Book: 
Justice served. Honor restored. Team reunited. After a long battle to discover the truth, the men and women of Hard Ink have a lot to celebrate, especially the wedding of two of their own—Nick Rixey and Becca Merritt, whose hard-fought love deserves a happy ending. As Nick and the team shift from crisis mode to building their new security consulting firm, Becca heads back to work at the ER. But amid the everyday chaos of demanding jobs and their upcoming nuptials, an old menace they thought long gone reemerges, threatening the peace they’ve only just found. Now, for one last time, Nick and Becca must fight for their always and forever, because they know that when true love overcomes all the odds it lasts hard ever after.   

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Although this novella features Nick and Becca, it's really an extended Epilogue for the series.  Thank goodness!  I say this because all of our favorite couples are back: Shane and Crystal, Easy and Jenna, Emilie and Derek, Charley and Jeremy, and Beckett and Kat.  It's a homecoming for the Hard Ink crew.

Taking place a short time after the conclusion of the major story arc, Nick asks Becca to marry him and the wedding is on.  Unfortunately, Becca is still dealing with the trauma of being kidnapped twice and injured by a member of the Church gang.  And now she is "seeing" her attacker. Will this derail Nick and Becca's happy ever after? 

This book is lovely.  It is perhaps the most romantic of the series.  Because we are already acquainted with the characters, we experience the growing depth of love between Nick and Becca.  Nick continues to articulate throughout the story about how much Becca means to him, what she has done for him, and how much he needs her.  In his words, "Becca Merritt had saved his life in every way that mattered." If you have been following the series, you know that given everything the Hard Ink characters went through, this is no small declaration.  

There are beautiful little moments and gestures including a tattoo scene that signifies their commitment to one another.  I got a little teary-eyed at Nick's wedding proposal and the wedding is beautifully written and packed with emotions (as weddings should be).  

If you are looking for high level of suspense, you may be disappointed.  The mystery and suspense is secondary to the love story (stories, if we include the check-ins all the other couples).  It adds a little extra drama, which fits, but is not the center of the story.  

In a Nutshell: 
Their story reminds me of the awe of falling in love.  Reaching a depth of emotion beyond the other books, this is a beautiful little topping to the Hard Ink series. 

Nick nailed Becca with a stare. As he watched, she made a valiant effort to button up just how upset she was, and that made him worry even more. He knelt down in front of her, his hands on her knees. “What’s going on?”

She shook her head, and his heart fucking broke as he saw her struggle to find her voice and hold back the tears.

Kat grasped something from Becca’s lap and held it out to him. “Someone left this in front of Becca’s locker at work today.”

Frowning, Nick accepted the small, floppy, black-and-brown stuffed animal into his hand. He guessed it was supposed to be a German shepherd, and the damn thing was missing a leg. It looked like someone had cut the back leg off and stapled the opening closed. What the hell?

“Look at the neck, Nick,” Kat said, her voice serious.

He flipped it around, and that was when he noticed that the animal was so floppy because the head was connected to the body only by a thin strip of material along the back. He might not have thought much about that if someone hadn’t gone to the trouble of spray painting the torn opening red. As if the neck had been slit.  “Sonofabitch,” he said, hot prickles running down his back. “Talk to me, Sunshine.”

She heaved a deep breath. “I found it at the end of my shift,” she said. “I went to get my stuff, and this was sitting upright on the floor in front of my locker. I thought someone had left me a present until . . .”

“This is fucking twisted,” Kat bit out.

The words echoed Nick’s own thoughts. Twisted and threatening. The removed leg was clearly meant to communicate that the person knew Becca’s dog had only three legs, which made the threat personal and specific.

“Did you talk to security about this?” he asked, making sure to keep his voice even.

Becca shook her head. “I was so freaked out, I just wanted to get out of there.”

“I didn’t know about this until just now, or I would’ve brought us home earlier,” Kat said.

“I’m sorry,” Becca said, turning to Nick’s sister. “I just wanted to forget about it for a few hours.”

“I know,” Kat said. “You don’t have to apologize, but I’m worried about this.”

Nick nodded. “Can you think of anyone at the hospital who would do this? Who would have a problem with you?”

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.      

Website | Facebook |Twitter | Newsletter Sign Up | HARD EVER AFTER on Goodreads

Join the rest of the tour:
Laura Kaye’s HARD EVER AFTER – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
January 25th
I Love Romance – Review & Excerpt
My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt
Provocative Pages – Review
Sofia Loves Books – Review
January 26th
Reads All the Books – Review
Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads – Review & Excerpt
Biblio Belles – Excerpt
Krista's Dust Jacket – Review & Excerpt
January 27th
NightWolf Book Blog – Excerpt
Barbara Book Blog – Excerpt
January 28th
She Hearts Books – Review
JordansBookReviews – Excerpt
Write for Your Life! – Review & Excerpt
Always YA at Heart – Review & Excerpt
January 29th
Book Sojourner – Review & Excerpt
Brittany's Book Blog – Excerpt
Obsessive Reading Disorder – Review & Excerpt
Smut Matters – Review & Excerpt
January 30th
Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous – Review & Excerpt
mignon mykel : reviews – Review & Excerpt
Only One More Page – Review & Excerpt
Bookalicious book babes – Review & Excerpt
January 31st
Extreme Bookaholic's – Excerpt
It's About the Book – Review
Ticket to Anywhere – Excerpt
Kelsey's Corner Time – Review & Excerpt
Cocktails and Books – Review & Excerpt
February 1st
Read-Love-Blog – Review & Excerpt
Bambi Unbridled – Excerpt
Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt
First Dream of Books – Review & Excerpt
Carol Kittie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
February 2nd
The Book Hammock – Review
I A-M a Bookaholic – Excerpt
About That Story – Review
What I'm Reading – Review & Excerpt
FMR Book Grind – Review
February 3rd
Books Need TLC – Review
My Girlfriends Couch – Review & Excerpt
February 4th
Reviews by Tammy and Kim – Review & Excerpt
Book Lovers 4Ever – Review & Excerpt
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
Ripe For Reader – Review
Sultry, Steamy Reading – Review & Excerpt
February 5th
Vera is Reading – Excerpt
Wickedcoolflight – Review & Excerpt
JB's Book Obsession – Review & Excerpt
Book Reader Chronicles – Review & Excerpt
February 6th
Love Drug Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
She's a Lip Biter – Review & Excerpt
Book Nook Nuts – Review & Excerpt
I'm A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt
Shelf_Life – Review & Excerpt
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Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway: EXTREME HONOR by Piper J. Drake

Extreme Honor
by Piper J. Drake
Book 1, True Heroes
Grand Central Publishing- Forever

Welcome to the blog tour for Extreme Honor.  Piper J. Drake is a new author to me.  I enjoyed the book and am happy to share my review with you.  Happy reading!

David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.

Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else—and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

I have enjoyed books about dogs in the romantic suspense genre in the past, and was hoping that this one had a good balance of suspense and charm.  If done right, the animals will warm your heart.  I was not disappointed.  Extreme Honor is an entertaining read with a suspenseful storyline and lots of potential for more.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the interesting insights that the author has about various subjects that ring true to me.  For example, I liked how the author is willing to articulate that not all Navy SEALS are heroic.  They are human beings subject to the same weakness and temptations as the rest of us.  Most may choose the right and moral choices, but not all:

Combat shaped soldiers in a variety of ways and as much as people wanted to think it was for the good, sometimes men got twisted.  Or they already were and service had brought out the jagged edges in them.  This man was not a shining example of a military hero by anyone’s definition. 

On a lighter note, Lyn’s observation about hotels really resonates with me as a frequent business traveller:  “She stayed in hotels all the time and they were most definitely not all made equal.  In fact, even hotels in the same chain varied to a certain extent, depending on the location.”  Truth.  It’s not a big insight, but is highly appreciated from someone who stays at a lot of hotels.  This “nod” increases my enjoyment of the story.

What starts off as a solid romantic suspense involving the trauma witnessed by a dog, develops into a riveting conspiracy theory about dishonest maneuvering happening during the war.  The narrative is well-paced and takes some surprising twists and turns.  

My biggest critique of the storyline is when Lyn makes a dubious choice to get in a car, despite the information she and David learned earlier about who is involved in a conspiracy.  Worse, David, who is plagued by his intuition all day, allows her to leave.  It seems out of character from the smart and cautious way they were working before that moment. I shook my head in confusion.

I also think that perhaps I would like more details on what makes Lyn a special dog whisperer.  She obviously connects with Atlas, but there is not enough about her training style, especially in contrast to Dave’s.  Learning about military dog training is heavily detailed and very interesting.  It feels unbalanced.

However, other parts of the story surprised me in a good way.  For the most part, I like the character development. The interaction between the two characters feels genuine based on their commonality as dog trainers whose styles complement each other. Moreover, I really enjoyed the ending.  It is better than what I expected.  The story is resolved well enough, but leaves room for more in the next book.

A new author, a new series, and a great start - I cannot wait to pick up the next installment.

Book two in the True Heroes series-  Ultimate Courage
Available July 26, 2016

Elisa Hall is good at starting from scratch. Leaving an abusive relationship in her rearview, she packs everything she owns into the trunk of her car and heads for refuge with her friend in Hope’s Crossing, Pennsylvania.
Alex Rojas returned from his second deployment as a Navy SEAL to find his condo empty and divorce papers on the breakfast table. Now he’s building a life for himself and his daughter at Hope’s Crossing kennels training younger dogs and handlers to search and rescue, struggling to adjust to life back in the States and as a single father.
When Elisa shows up at the kennels, it’s obvious she’s running from something. Luckily, the dogs and trainers at Hope’s Crossing are more than capable of warding off trouble. And with every minute he spends with Elisa, Alex becomes even more and more determined to protect the woman he’s certain he won’t be able to live without…
Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) began her writing career as “PJ Schnyder” writing sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk. She has recently received the FF&P PRISM award for her work as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award.
Now, PJ is exploring the complexity of romantic suspense, incorporating her interests in mixed martial arts and the military into her writing.

Connect with Piper at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads| Youtube

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Blog Tour and Review: OUTSIDE THE LINES by Lisa Desrochers

Outside the Lines
by Lisa Desrochers

From the author of the USA Today bestselling A Little Too Far series, the first in an edgy new contemporary romance series that follows a family on the run...

As the oldest son of a Chicago crime lord, Robert Delgado always knew how dangerous life could be. With his mother dead and his father in prison, he’s taking charge of his family’s safety—putting himself and his siblings in witness protection to hide out in a backwater Florida town.

Fourth grade teacher Adri Wilson is worried about the new boy in her class. Sherm is quiet and evasive, especially when he’s around his even cagier older brother. Adri can’t help her attraction to Rob, or the urge to help them both in whatever way she can.

But the Delgados have enemies on two sides of the mob—their father’s former crew and the rival family he helped take down. It’s only a matter of time before someone finds them. And if Rob isn’t careful, Adri could end up in the crossfire...

This is my first book by this author.  I was intrigued by the premise of a young man from a mobster-royalty family on the run after an assassination attempt on his family and now in witness protection.  Robert Delgado is one of the princes of the Chicago Delgado crime family.  His mother has been murdered and his father is in prison and targeted for turning state's evidence on other gangsters. In a power move, an unknown person sends an assassin to kill the Delgado children.  In response, Rob enters into witness protection to save his family while he plans to return to Chicago and exact his revenge.  

For me, the best part of this story is in the family dynamics.  Sherm is the youngest in the family. He witnesses Rob defend the family and kill the would-be assassin.  He is traumatized by this experience.  Adri is his teacher and immediately notices his withdrawn behavior and his alienation from his older brother and guardian. I really liked how the author slowly rehabilitates this relationship.  It is painful for Rob to feel Sherm's distance and it is not going to be solved over night.  That feels true. 

Several plot points left me shaking my head.  I found it difficult to believe that Rob would become a bodyguard for a high profile security company.  If he is trying to keep a low profile, this is not the job to get.  This company supplies bodyguards to people in the spotlight, who often get photographed.  Chances are that his picture would show up on some news outlet and thus, putting his family's life in risk.  

Also, Adri's attempt to follow Rob back to Chicago which sets off another caper, is unbelievable to me.  I do not think that a smart girl like Adri would dash off to Chicago on a whim with very little knowledge of the city and his real identity, try to find her boyfriend.  

My biggest critique is that the main story arc is left unresolved.  It is still unclear who took the hit out on the Delgado family. There are also side storylines that are left to dangle. I was left with a lot of questions.  How is Chuck relevant to the story?  Why is Lee so obsessed with Oliver Savoca?  (We can take a guess, but the story doesn't advance at all).  The author give us many good nuggets, even if the ancillary storylines don't get resolved, they need to be developed a little more to entice us for the next story.  

Lisa Desrochers is the USA Today bestselling author of A LITTLE TOO FAR, courtesy of HarperCollins. Look for the companions, A LITTLE TOO MUCH (11/12/13), and A LITTLE TOO HOT (1/21/14), and also her Personal Demons trilogy (Macmillan).

Lisa lives in northern California with her husband, two very busy daughters, and Shini the tarantula. When she's not writing, she's reading, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise. 
Find her online at, on Twitter at @LisaDez, and on Facebook at

Chapter 2

“Is this straight?” Dad asks, peering in the mirror across from the front door and messing with the badge on the breast pocket of his blue shirt.
There is almost no crime on our little island because Dad is legendary for taking down drug rings and poachers, but when it comes to the little things, like pinning his badge on straight, he still needs help.
That’s why I’m here.
When Mom died last spring, I came back from Jacksonville so I could live at home and help Dad. He and Mom were high school sweethearts and married not long after graduation. He’s always been taken care of. I don’t want him to be alone.
I move to where he is and turn him, unpinning the badge and straightening it. I smooth his salt and pepper hair off his forehead and stretch up on my toes to kiss the smooth patch of cheek above the line of his beard. “I seriously doubt they’re going to send the Chief of Police home for a dress code infraction.”
“We’ll see,” he chuckles, giving my blond ponytail a gentle tug. “You ready for your first day influencing the youth of Port St. Mary?”
I was over the moon when I got the call three days ago that Mrs. Martin had had surgery and they needed a long-term sub for her class. Not that I’m happy they hacked out her gallbladder or anything, but her loss is my gain, so to speak.
I come from a long line of educators. Mom was my first grade teacher. Both of her sisters, her father, and her grandfather taught as well. You could say it’s in my DNA. I resisted it for a while, thought I wanted to go into finance, but by my junior year at Clemson I had to finally admit to myself teaching was what I really wanted to do. I changed my major to Education and finished my credential just before Mom died.
Since her death, it’s felt even more urgent to me to teach—like maybe following in her footsteps will somehow keep her spirit alive. But Port St. Mary and the surrounding communities are small, and teaching jobs are pretty scarce. I was afraid I was going to have to try elsewhere come fall. This was a prayer answered…which makes me a little afraid I might have had something to do with poor Mrs. Martin’s gallbladder flaring up. And now it’s starting to feel like one of those “be careful what you wish for” scenarios.
I rub my sweaty palms down my slacks. “What happens if they hate me?”
Dad wraps me in his arms and squeezes me in a bear hug, crushing the air out of my lungs. “They’re going to love you, punkin. Your mom would be so proud of you right now,” he says, a catch in his voice. “I hope you know that.”
I swallow back the lump in my throat and look up at him. I can’t even remember the last time he’s brought her up out of the blue like this. “I know, Dad, but thanks for saying so.” He lets me go and I shoulder my messenger bag. “Time to face the music.”
We step out the back door to where my old electric blue Chevy Lumina is parked in the driveway, next to Dad’s only slightly less conspicuous cruiser. Dad watches as I slide in and turn the key. The engine chugs but doesn’t turn over.
I blow out a breath and pop the hood. By the time I grab the monkey wrench on the floor of the passenger side and get out of the car, Dad already has the hood propped up and is looking over the engine compartment.
“Don’t mess with Frank, Dad.” I point my finger in a circle at the guts of my poor Frankencar. Me and my best friend Chuck rebuilt most of the insides from junkyard parts when we took auto shop our senior year in high school. “It’s a delicate balance.”
He grins and steps back, his hands in the air. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
I will always love Frank—he was my first—but I know I need a new car. Dad’s offered me Mom’s T-Bird, but I’m twenty-three. I’m supposed to be responsible for myself at this point. And besides, I’d rather he sold Mom’s car and put the money towards his retirement. Even though Port St. Mary is pretty sleepy most of the time, everyday he goes to work, I worry.
I reach between the radiator and the engine and give the alternator a sharp rap with the wrench, then slip back into the driver’s seat. When I turn the key, Frank chugs twice, same as always, then rumbles to life.
Dad ducks into the cruiser and gives me a little salute as I pull out.
Port St. Mary Elementary is only about two miles from home. It takes a grand total of eight minutes to drive there. Technically, it’s a one-room schoolhouse. The tiny twelve-space parking lot butts up against an octagonal building, which, in fact, is just one big room inside. In the exact center of the building are the bathrooms and storage closets, and from there, folding accordion partitions section off each wedge of the octagon. Each wedge is a grade level, kinder through sixth, and a multipurpose room. To the right of the parking lot is a doublewide “portable” that houses the school offices and small staff room. Behind that, children are already gathering in the playground, which is really just a weed-infested lot with a slide and jungle gym that has been there since before I started kindergarten here.
When I walk around the octagon to the door marked with a big yellow four and step inside, it’s like deja vu all over again. Mrs. Martin (she told me to call her Pam when we talked on the phone about the lesson plan yesterday, but I can’t bring myself to) has had the same posters on the walls since the dawn of time. The presidential chart ends with Reagan. She had already been teaching fourth grade in this same classroom for, like, twenty years when I had her.
I move to her desk, to the right of the door, and set my bag on it. And that’s when I see the note from Principal Richmond.
A new student.
I brush my palms down my slacks again, a fresh jolt of nerves twisting my insides into knots. I was already going to be way over my head with a classroom full of nine-year-olds fresh off Christmas vacation and all sugared up on candy canes.
I look over the instructions. Sherman William Davidson needs his reading comprehension assessment, writing and grammar evaluation, and his math skills worksheet completed by the end of the week.
I blow a wisp of hair off my forehead and unpack my toothpaste and toothbrush, my journal, and a few of my favorite colored pens into Mrs. Martin’s desk, careful not to displace her things too much. I’m just pulling the assessments for the new kid from the file cabinet when the classroom door opens. I hear Principal Richmond’s gravel voice before I turn around. “…and his classroom is here. We just got word a few days ago that our regular fourth grade teacher is out on medical leave, but Sherman will be in good hands with Ms. Wilson. She’s a very capable substitute.”
I take a deep breath as I turn and hope he’s not lying.
I substituted five times during fall semester. For the most part, everything went great until I subbed for Mrs. Yetz’s eighth grade class the week before winter break. Somehow, what started out as a math lab on probability devolved into a liar’s dice tournament, complete with money changing hands. I wasn’t sure they’d call me back after that.
But when I see Principal Richmond waddle his round frame through the door, I straighten the scarf I tied over my favorite teal sweater and try to look as confident in what he said as he does.
“Ms. Wilson,” he says, waving me over. “This is your new student, Sherman.”
Sherman is a wiry little thing with unruly brown hair and clothes that hang off him a little. He looks as if he’d vanish into himself if given the chance.
“He goes by Sherm,” the man standing next to him says.
I look up into some of the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen. Heavy dark brows curve over irises the color of honey with burgundy flecks through them. Thick brown waves are loose around a strong face with angled cheekbones, and a square jaw covered in two-day stubble. Set in flawless olive skin are lips so firm and red they make me forget the frown that’s turning them down slightly at the corners. He’s just so…gorgeous, like something out of a magazine or a movie. And he’s tall—well over six feet of broad shoulders tapering to narrow hips under his blue button-down shirt. The tails are loose over pressed jeans that fit him just so. Everything about him is tailored and cultured and nothing like any of the year-rounders who live on this bumpkin island. But it’s not just the way he looks. A blend of confidence and something else I can’t identify but makes him feel a little intimidating wafts off him with the spicy cologne I keep catching hints of. He’s nothing like anyone I’ve ever met, even at Clemson.
I feel my jaw dangling and snap it closed, pulling myself together long enough to extend an arm. “I’m Adri.”
Principal Richmond clears his throat, and when I flick a glance his direction, I know my ogling didn’t go unnoticed. His brow is deeply furrowed and his frown curves so low it makes him look like one of those marionettes, where their chin is a whole different piece of wood than the rest of their face.
My eyes bulge and I shift my outstretched hand to Sherm. “I mean, Miss Wilson. Welcome to Port St. Mary, Sherm.”
The boy just looks at me with sad eyes the color of his…father’s?
My gaze gravitates back to the guy towering over me. Could he be Sherm’s dad? He looks way too young to have a nine-year-old. He also looks all business. There’s nothing soft or nurturing in his cold, sharp gaze as it flicks around the classroom, silently assessing.
“What’s on the other side of those partitions?” he asks Principal Richmond.
“The third and fifth grade classrooms,” he answers.
The guy’s eyes continue to scan the room. “He’ll spend all day in here?”
The principal nods. “Except when he’s on the playground.”
“Is there security on campus?”
Principal Richmond looks momentarily perplexed, rubbing his round stomach as if he’s thinking with it. “Not as such. We have yard monitors during recess and lunch, and the teachers are responsible for the children when they’re here in class.”
“What about lunch?”
“He can bring his own lunch, or buy a bag lunch from Nutritional Services for three dollars. Either way, if it’s nice weather, the children eat outside at the picnic tables. On rainy days, we open the partitions and they eat inside as a group.”
The guy reaches into his pocket, but Principal Richmond holds up his hand to stop him when he comes out with a thick wad of cash. “We don’t allow students to carry money on campus. When we’re done here, I’ll take you to the office and have you purchase a scan card for Nutritional Services.”
The guy nods, then moves to the door and jiggles the knob. “The exterior doors are left unlocked?”
“During school hours, yes.” Principal Richmond answers, moving to my desk and shuffling through the papers I pulled for Sherm.
The guy’s full lips narrow into a tight line and he scowls at the door. He spins and starts toward the door in the back of the room, leaving no stone unturned.
I wipe my hands down my slacks again and decide just to ask. “So, you’re Sherm’s father?”
His feet stall on the chipped linoleum and he seems to finally notice I exist. “Brother,” he answers, and that one word seems to carry the weight of the world with it as it falls from his mouth.
His eyes make a slow sweep of my face, and as they trail down my neck, the front of my sweater, over my hips and down my legs, I’m frozen in place, paralyzed by the intensity of his gaze.
Principal Richmond shoves some papers in my face, breaking the spell. “You still have fifteen minutes until the bell. Maybe you can get Sherman started on these.”
“Um…” I grab the papers out of his hand as Big Brother blinks, some of the thickest lashes I’ve ever seen hiding those incredible eyes. “Yeah. We’ll do that...”
Principal Richmond guides Big Brother to the door. “Let’s get out of their way and let them get started. I’m sure Sherman will have a positive experience here. Children his age tend to adjust quickly,” he’s saying as the door swings closed behind them.