Drawn by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite’s latest novel, take us back to Dallas and drops us write in the middle of a murder mystery with a heaping dash of romance. Taite excels at writing this type of novel, she drew me in and give me a ton of anxiety. I was reading feverishly to find out how the damned killer was.

Riley Flynn is an up and coming artist who just landed a deal with a highly sought after Dallas art gallery. This is the big break she has been working for. On the flip side, life is throwing more at her than she needs right now. She needs to focus on her art, not deal with her father, and the bucket loads of drama that him being back entails. Frank Flynn, Riley’s dad was convicted of a brutal murder fifteen years ago. Frank has been released from prison because new information and DNA samples have shed new life on his case. He has always proclaimed his innocence, but that does not erase the terrible years that Riley has had to endure because of his trial. Upon his release and weeks from her gallery show, a murder near Riley’s neighborhood in Dallas have made both Frank and Riley suspects.

Claire Hanlon is the lead homicide detective on the murder of a young woman who has been strangled and left with an urban art sketch in her suit pocket. There is a lot of heat on her to wrap this case up as fast as possible. The higher-ups want a Flynn to be brought in, but Riley knows that this will just create a media frenzy. Claire is not convinced Riley or her dad had anything to do with this heinous crime. She just can’t prove it yet, and the pressure to wrap it up quickly and her attraction to Riley is not helping matters at all.

The story leading up to finding out who the killer is is really good. You have a detailed story with shifting POV and it draws you in. You have multiple layers of the plot that give the story depth and really engage you, the reader. My only complaint is the story is too short. We needed more, to wrap up the ending and we needed more one on one with the mains. The romance felt like a side note, and while I got lust. I didn’t get true love. I needed Taite to show me more than the attraction between Riley and Claire. A few more chapters would have made this book go from good to great. Even with all that said, this is a book well worth your time.

3 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/drawn-by-carsen-taite-3271-b

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Breaking Down Her Walls by Erin Zak

Julia Finch is running away from life. The destination is 100% unknown. How can you run away totally from your past and self-hatred? She tries like hell too, that is until her beat-up old clunker of a car finally gives up on her journey in a teeny tiny Colorado town. With little money, she has to make a deal to work off her automobile repair debt by lending a hand at a large cattle ranch.

Julia spends her days shoveling manure and bonding with the ranch’s horses. Her immediate connection to these beautiful working animals endures her to the ranch’s owner, Elena Bennett.

Elena Bennett spends her time working her ranch and being perpetually pissed off. Her heart has been broken too many times and she cannot shake off her anger. Her wife was killed in an automobile accident breaking her heart the first time, the second women she trusted with it decided to up and leave her with little warning. Now she’s just angry and a bit broken. When she first meets Julia she is hard bitter and has very little patience for the new ranch hand.

I like the premise of the story. Two characters overcoming past tragedies to find their way to love, trust and respect. For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I will be honest I thought the ex-girlfriend showing back up after her disappearing act was a bit contrived and made to story slow way down and become a bit too contrived. I mean if your ex-lover dumps you with no word, disappears out of town and now you have a new lady you are just pining for you’re going to hang out with said ex when she shows back up. Hell no! Penn showing back up was a monumental waste of reading space. It would have been infinitely better spent on dialogue between the two mains.

Overall a good book that I am happy that I spent some time with.

3 out of 5 stars

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Huntress by A.E. Radley

You know you have read a fabulous book when you desperately hope that there will be a sequel. Not in the ending was left dangling kind of way, no more than anything you want to read these amazing characters again. This is exactly what the Huntress does, you love every second with this book and more than anything don’t want you time with it to end.

Amy Hewitt is a coffee barista at Tom’s Café. Amy loves the consistency of her job. Is it what she should be doing with her life? Everyone tells her no but Amy loves it none-the-less. Sociology with honors degree is doing Amy a lot of good at this point. One particular plus of her barista job is the chance of meeting up with Cara every day. Cara is a beautiful, professional woman who is drop dead gorgeous. Cara stops in Amy’s shop every morning, orders the same thing and spends a little bit of her time flirting with Amy. Amy lives for this moment of her day, seeing as Cara is completely out of her league in looks and station in life. All of this spins completely out of control when Cara stops showing up for her morning coffee and Amy’s quest to find her lands her in the sights of MI-5’s terrorism unit.

What I can tell you about Amy, an amazing character who is unbelievably endearing. She’s brilliant and empathetic. Her kindness radiates off of her in such an extreme that she can literally tell a stranger she is a fugitive on the run and they will open their home to her. As her quest to find Cara, all hell breaks loose and Amy and her bestie, Kerry, embark on a dangerously epic adventure. They risk life and limb to find the truth. All the while, Kerry and Amy are being chased by Claudia McAllister, a famous analyst who is known for finding criminals on the run.

This book engages the reader right from the very start. It a rollercoaster of zany mishaps that have you both simultaneously on the edge or your seat and laughing till tears fall. The plot is of twists and turns that keep you in Amy’s world of delightful chaos. This book is a fun, lighthearted mystery with just a touch of romance. It was a delightful read, and I enjoyed every second of it!

5 out of 5 stars

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Secret Hearts by Radclyffe

A classic Radclyffe is what Secret Hearts is. A sweet story, with well-developed characters and enough chemistry to keep you 100% committed to the end. You know what you’re getting with this author and she doesn’t let you down.

Catherine “Kip” Kensington hails from a very prominent, well to do New York family. Her last name and the work she does for the Department of Defense forces her to keep a low profile. Unfortunately her brother, Randy does not follow her lead. Addicted to drugs and “borrowing” cars, lands not only himself but Kip in lockup. A childhood tragedy shaped both Kip’s and Randy’s life, and the young man has taken refuge in nefarious activities as a way of masking his pain. Kip plays the mother role and tirelessly tries to help Randy out of jams even though the price she pays is a criminal record and a ton of heartache.

Jordan Rice is developing a community garden project in the heart of Manhattan. She works tirelessly to plant her crops and make contacts to supply her produce to the city’s restaurant industry. With a heart of gold, and an iron will to succeed, Jordan doesn’t make room for anything else but work in her life. She’s given up on meeting anyone and fills her time with making the world a better place.

Jordan and Kip meet in a super awkward way. Kip is assigned by the courts to do 400+ hours of community service for driving a stolen vehicle (thanks Randy!). This caring do-gooder takes her licks and heads over to the community garden, unbeknownst to Jordan that the garden was getting a helper. Tension increases as the office building has just been broken into, which causes Jordan to almost attack Kip, the perceived thief.

This age gap romance has a lot going for it. You have two level-headed, intelligent leading ladies who really work well together. Life throws them some curveballs sure, but these to have a synchronicity and a natural flow. They just work well together in all sense of the word. Even though Kip is used to holding a bit of herself back, Jordan has a way of looking past that and finding out who Kip really is. Through Jordan, Kip learns to let Randy stand for himself, even if it’s a painful process, to watch someone you love take the hard road. This is a feel good story that is most definitely worthy of your time.

 4 out of 5 stars

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