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Review: One Last Breath by Lisa Jackson

One Last BreathOne Last Breath by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love both Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush. But I didn’t love this book, I’m sorry to say.

The book begins with two simultaneous attacks on the wedding of Liam Bastian and Rory Abernathy, a mismatched pair of lovers from opposite sides of the tracks. Rory runs, taking the couple’s unborn child with her, vowing to disappear forever. But five years later, Liam finally tracks Rory down … and then people start turning up dead. Who was behind the attacks five years earlier, and are they back to finish the job?

The book starts out great – it’s action-packed and very mysterious. But then, things lose steam. The Rory-Liam chase goes on too long, and the cat-and-mouse game they play is too dragged out. I would have liked more focus on the mystery and the characters themselves, rather than that melodrama.

Also, I didn’t really like either Liam or Rory. I didn’t feel the chemistry between them and I quickly became annoyed by Rory’s insistence that she had to stay hidden – it’s never entirely clear why exactly she thinks that, especially when everyone around her agrees that she needs to stop running.

There are some nice twists in there that kept me entertained toward the end and like I said, the mystery itself is pretty good – it proves that Jackson and Bush still have what it takes. This book itself is just a miss.

I’d skip this one in favor of another by these ladies.

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Review: Ominous by Lisa Jackson

Ominous (Wyoming, #2)Ominous by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve seen these multi-author collaborations before, but never tried one. However, this latest venture between Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush, and Rosalind Noonan looked good, so I decided to branch out. I have to say, I’m pretty glad I did.

“Ominous” provides the suspense, romance and mystery we’ve come to love from these authors, all in one volume. I greatly enjoyed it.

FYI: this novel contains multiple, graphic sexual assaults. If this is a triggering topic for you, you probably want to choose another book.

The novel centers around three girls, who, one summer night 15 years ago, decided to sneak out of their homes and go skinny-dipping at a local lake. However, things go terribly wrong when they are attacked – and through mutual agreement they decide never to talk about that night again. However, in the present day, all three have returned to the small Wyoming town where they grew up. And it shortly becomes apparent that their attacker is back as well, and ready to start up again.

I really enjoyed this book. It had all of the elements of a romantic suspense novel from Jackson or Bush that I’ve come to love. Plenty of suspects kept me guessing throughout the book as well. I didn’t guess the ending. And let me tell you – the villain in this book is bad. Like, really, really creepy/scary/awful. I was really creeped out during his “scenes.”

The romances were also on point as well. I was routing for each of the couples, and was happy with their scenes. They felt real and genuine, which is the key in this genre.

My only complaint would be that it with three main characters and three romances, there were a lot of characters squeezed into the book. I wish we had more time with each of them! But that’s the nature of anthologies.

Overall, I really liked this book and would try another multi-author effort involving these authors. Any fan of these authors will enjoy it.

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You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

You Will PayYou Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a new standalone novel, Lisa Jackson creates a fascinating mystery, anchored in the past, with reverberations in the present. It’s another winner from Jackson, though not quite one of my favorites (though that’s a tall order, because her books are generally very good).

Twenty years ago, a group of young people were thrown together at a Christian summer camp. As expected hormones and bad behavior raged, culminating in the disappearance of three of the camp’s young employees. Now, as a set of bones are discovered, The unsolved disappearances are getting a fresh look. Everyone has something to hide and everyone behaved poorly, but who is a killer? The remaining group is determined to find out.

The mystery of what happened all those years ago is at the heart of this novel. It’s so suspenseful and twisty, you can’t help but get sucked in and want to find out what happened. There’s enough things that will keep you turning pages.

I didn’t figure it all out. I had some ideas, but the final outcomes remained a mystery to me. I loved the suspense in this novel and was satisfied with how things turned out. Everything seemed to wrap up nicely.

The novel is not only told in both the past and the present, it is told from various viewpoints, as Jackson shows what happened 20 years ago from all angles. While this provides some good information and adds to the mystery, it does make it hard to really connect with any of the characters.

Because of that, the romance fell flat for me. But I was really in it for the mystery anyway. That’s the gem of this novel and what Jackson really does best: creating a world of suspense and mystery that drags you in.

I’ll be interested to see if these characters will return for another novel. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Maggie, Annette or Nell. If this does turn into a series, I’ll definitely be picking up the future books!

Highly recommended.

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Dangerous Behavior by Nancy Bush

Dangerous BehaviorDangerous Behavior by Nancy Bush

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fans of classic mysteries will love the latest by Nancy Bush (one of my favorites!) which isn’t necessarily action-packed, but will put readers’ detective skills to the test in pursuit of some “thrill killers” and their puppeteer.

The book centers on the murder of Joe Ford, whose estranged brother, ex-police officer Sam Ford, was summoned to his house the day his boat catches fire, killing him and leaving his wife Julia badly injured. Sam and Julia were once a hot item and the brothers fell out over the marriage, but despite their differences, Sam is determined to catch his brother’s killer. The case quickly centers around recent business dealings of Joe’s and other financial bigwigs in the area. In a small town, everyone knows everyone’s business, and everyone’s connected. Untangling everything is a big task.

This is definitely one of those cases where it seems so straightforward but soon small twists take the story in other directions. It’s interesting to see how it slowly unravels. And there are a ton of suspects so readers will remain guessing until the end – at least I did.

And there’s a great little twist at the end. Loved it.

The thrill killer seems provide some action but mostly the novel follow Sam and Julia as she tries to remember that day and Sam tries to make sense of his brothers final days – a rough task since they were estranged. I didn’t mind this because it allowed me to focus on the mystery in the story rather than all of the action and movement.

Like I said, it really is a classic mystery-type story.

I don’t know if Bush will go back to this town or these characters in the future for more, but I would definitely read more about them. And there’s plenty of interesting stories in there somewhere, with all the characters that she introduces.

Another winner here, folks.

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Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

Expecting to Die (To Die, #7)Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I love Lisa Jackson’s romantic suspense novels. She knows how to craft a book that is creepy, intriguing and incredibly addicting.

And I’m happy to say that “Expecting to Die” is another winner!

The novel is a decidedly modern take on teenage drama, murder and – wait for it – the hunt for Bigfoot. Somehow Jackson is able to weave all of these elements into a tale that keeps you guessing and wanting more.

The story opens with the murder of a pregnant local teen, whose body is discovered during a teenage drinking party by homicide detective Regan Pescoli’s daughter, Bianca. More frightening is that Bianca says she discovered the body after being chased down a steep bank by a big, hairy creature that many in the town are quick to assume is a Sasquatch. As media attention focuses on the small town of Grizzly Falls and its teenage population, more bodies turn up, and Pescoli and her partner have to untangle what’s going on in the mountains.

Once the story got going, I really enjoyed the “fresh” elements of the story: reality television, social media, etc. are all big points in the story, since much of the storyline focuses on the teenage crowd that surrounds Bianca. And figuring out who knows who, who’s sleeping with who is incredibly intriguing, as you are just pushed into the drama. It’s like a murderous, delicious “Gossip Girl.”

I hadn’t read the other in Jackson’s Grizzly Falls series before this book, but had no problems picking it right up. In fact, it made me disappointed in myself that I had been slacking and hadn’t gotten into the Pescoli/Alvarez storyline yet! (My favorite is the New Orleans series!)

The four stars come in because after reading (and rereading) some parts, I still am a little unclear about the ending. Some elements were very clearly laid out, but one in particular is still unclear to me. Maybe once others pick this one up, we can discuss. It’s also a kind-of depressing take on the teenage crowd (similar to “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth”). You don’t come out with a lot of faith in the next generation.

But overall, I really enjoyed this book. I stayed up late last night to finish it because I had to know how it ended.

Highly recommended.

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Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh

Midnight Obsession (Midnight, #4)Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Melinda Leigh has crafted a great romantic suspense novel that will appeal to fans of Lisa Jackson, Nora Roberts and others.

The story is multi-layered, without being overly complicated or confusing.

The main storyline involves a ritual murder which recalls the warrior burials of the Vikings. When Louisa Hancock’s father – an expert on Vikings – goes missing, Louisa and her boyfriend, Conor Sullivan, must race against the clock to figure out what’s happening. At the same time, Conor and Louisa get wrapped up in a violent gang war, which may also tie into the Viking killer’s plans.

I had not read the other books in the series but I didn’t feel lost at all. The story does well as a standalone. There are references to old plot lines, but nothing is spoiled for those that want to go back and read the others.

The main mystery was pretty good – it’s one of those “don’t look away until the end,” because it’s not totally done until it’s done. I like books like that, because they don’t let you rest until you’re done. You don’t lose interest because it’s all solved.

There’s also a very creepy resolution- not to give anything away but it’s really….twisted, blurring the line between victim and perpetrator/good and evil. It makes you think, which is good.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to revisiting some of these characters in future books. I will be picking up the others in this series.

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All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron

All the Dead Girls (Graveyard Falls, #3)All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every once in awhile, I’m in the mood for a good romantic suspense book. Filled with a twisted killer, a cheesy couple and a big reveal at the end. “All the Dead Girls,” fits the bill perfectly.

This is the third in the Graveyard Falls series, but can certainly be read as a standalone.

The book follows Beth, formerly JJ, who was abducted as a teen, but doesn’t remember any of it. Her guidance counselor was convicted of the crime, but she always questioned his guilt. Then, the long-buried bones of more than a dozen girls are found after a storm, including the friend JJ disappeared with. She returns to town to see if she can figure out who is behind the killings once and for all. The towns sheriff, Ian, is also on the case – and shocker! – he’s the stepson of the convicted man out to prove his innocence.

You have to suspend belief a little bit with this one, since it’s incredibly unlikely that a third serial killer would inhabit this same small town and that JJ and Ian would be allowed to investigate, with their personal ties to the case.

But past that, it’s a good story. The killer is seriously freaking twisted, and there are several points in the story you think you’ve got it all figured out, only for the author to add a new layer. This all also happens against the backdrop of religious fanaticism, which I think is incredibly creepy and kept me turning pages.

The romance was a little over-the-top (I didn’t really get the chemistry between the characters) but it wasn’t terrible. I guess I liked the mystery so much, I was too focused on that! Hopefully, we’ll see more of these two and develop their relationship a little more.

If you’re a fan of romantic suspense – Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush, etc. – you’ll want to pick this one up. It’s made me a Rita Herron fan.

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