Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4) by Susan May Warren

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: January 2018

Billionaire Ian Shaw’s life is crumbling fast. He’s had to liquidate his fortune, his niece Esme remains missing, and the woman he loves wants nothing to do with him.

Sierra Rose has loved Ian for years, but as long as Esme’s disappearance continues to consume him, there is no future for them as a couple. Of course, if he knew the truth, there probably wouldn’t be a hapily-ever-after anyway. Sierra knows where Esme hides and why, but a promise to the girl prevents her from revealing that fact to the uncle.

After the PEAK chopper is damaged and the rescue team lacks the funds to repair it, Ian and Sierra combine forces to host a fundraising event on his yacht. But what should have been three, fun-filled days turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave destroys the yacht, tossing the passengers overboard. Ian and Sierra find themselves stranded on a deserted island with nothing but each other, the land, and the hope of rescue to help them survive.

Susan May Warren’s Troubled Waters plunges readers into a non-stop, action-soaked tale. I have been chomping at the bit for Ian and Sierra’s story ever since the prequel. Their turn finally arrived leaving me with mixed feelings. Apparently, it is possible to have an intense, adrenaline-laden tale that drags. After all, what doesn’t happen to the characters? Fire, a rogue wave, lost at sea, hurricane, and more. It reached the point where it felt like a never-ending string of bad events that happened with little story and character development.

Despite my early fascination with Ian and Sierra’s romance, as the Montana Rescue series has progressed, I’ve found myself increasingly disappointed in Sierra. She toyed with another man’s feelings (Book 2), removed herself from Ian’s life blaming his obsession with finding his niece even though Sierra was more part of the problem than the solution. Not to mention that withholding the truth from Ian, especially considering the threat to Esme’s life, was not only unwise and dangerous, but no way to build a foundation for any sort of relationship. All in all, even though she had me firmly planted on her side early on in the series, it became increasingly hard to sympathize with her.

Though it was an okay read, it doesn’t rank amongst Warren’s best works. Having read the prequel and three books prior to Troubled Waters, I had no trouble keeping the characters straight or following the story. However, if you’re new to Montana Rescue, I recommend starting at the beginning. Otherwise, a lot will be missed and potentially lead to a confusing read.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks.

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Darkwater Secrets (Darkwater Inn #1) by Robin Caroll

Genre: Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Publication Date: July 2018

In New Orleans’ French Quarter stands the Darkwater Inn — a confluence to a bustling street life, eclectic guests, and now murder. Managing the inn comes with plenty of challenges, but Adelaide Fountaine loves the job. However, the hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife could not only ruin the inn’s reputation but also cost Adelaide her job.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, lands the case. As he delves into the victim’s past, Beau not only discovers a sordid history but also a surprising connection with Adelaide — one she’s kept secret for years. Hurt by the betrayal, things only complicate further when the investigation pushes Adelaide, the woman he has loved for years, into the arms of another man.

Part mystery, part romance, part drama, Darkwater Secrets is one story I’m not quite sure how to place. I picked Robin Caroll’s latest novel expecting a high-stakes romantic suspense read. However, the murderer is revealed and apprehended around the 70% mark. What follows is Adelaide dealing with long-held secrets and feeling torn between two men.

To be honest, the jury is still out on how I feel about this book. Though not completely let down, I didn’t feel totally satisfied either. The outcome will probably depend on how the series continues from here on out. In a way, it felt like the entire novel was just one long set up for what is to come. A risky move, but one I’m willing to give a shot.

At the moment, both Beau and Dimitri seem like nice men who genuinely care for Adelaide. She, on the other hand, tests the waters with both. A big no-no in my book. First, that’s a major red flag that she doesn’t truly love either one. Second, one should find out how s/he feels and then explore the possibility of a relationship. Not the other way around. One shouldn’t toy with people’s emotions. Despite being strongly, and wisely, advised by people in her life, Adelaide continually chose to disregard them, making poor decisions.

Set in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, the occult plays a role in the story, which again, I am waiting to see how the author handles it. While the one Christian character does say he has nothing to worry about because he has God on his side (which is true to an extent), he also takes the spiritual world too lightly — a dangerous stance for a believer.

Still, as a whole, Darkwater Secrets provided a quick read, and I will give the next installment in the series a shot.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

 

Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Love Inspired
Publication Date: February 2018

Josie Gallagher views Jacob Weatherly as persona-non-grata. Not only does he work for the hotel chain forcing her restaurant to close, the single father shows up with a little girl — her little girl — whom Josie put up for adoption six years earlier stipulating she must go to a married couple.

Josie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but making sure her daughter had a better chance in life wasn’t one of them. Only now, it appears it may have all been in vain. As Josie comes to know her sweet Addie and the man raising her, a bond grows, but all may not be as it appears in the Weatherly family and for her daughter’s sake, Josie can’t risk losing her heart.

Ruth Logan Herne’s Her Secret Daughter offers a quick, light read perfect for a summer afternoon. For the most part, fun characters engage the reader. While I understood Josie’s initial anger at discovering her daughter wasn’t being raised by a married couple as she’d believed, she held on to it for too long. Whatever the events that led to Jacob raising Addie, it soon became evident that he was a great father, providing Addie with a wonderful life — what Josie had wanted all along. Despite Josie’s objections to the contrary, her insistence on bringing in lawyers and opening a case felt more like anger and revenge than wanting to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else. Seeing the trouble she caused Jacob and Addie, which could have potentially been worse, made her a little hard to like and sympathize with at times. Had Josie’s motives felt more genuine and less like revenge, it would have been different.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Jacob, Addie, and discovering the events that brought them together. The man is truly a gem! The setting, too, was perfect. Of course, the romantic in me basked in watching Jacob, Josie, and Addie grow toward becoming a family. I recommend this story to someone looking for a quick escape from the daily grind.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Radiant Publications
Publication Date: November 2017

After graduating from college in the United States, missionary kid, Hannah Pratt returns to the Bedouin clan where she grew up with the dream of starting a school. Upon arrival, she discovers that her parents have been receiving threats from the community.

Young sheikh, Karim Al-Amir  has a duty toward his people. An unknown illness ravages their flocks and threatens their way of life. Many in the clan believe it to be punishment for allowing the American doctors and their daughter to live among them. Desperate to keep his childhood friend safe, he will do anything to protect Hannah and her parents, even something as crazy as marriage.

Hannah never imagined marrying someone who didn’t share her faith, but with the danger against her and her family rising and her calling clear, marriage to the sheikh might be the only way.

The Esther Paradigm delivers a sweet, butterflies-in-my-stomach, happy-sigh romance. Sarah Monzon pens relatable characters that tug at the readers’ hearts. One can’t help but love and root for them. Masterful storytelling and vivid writing brought this tale to life, making it next to impossible to put down. I could see the story unfold as though there in person. It’s been a while since a book has given me “the feels” all the way to my toes and back. And the ending — I won’t give anything away, but it was perfect!

All this being said, I was also torn. Though inspired by the Biblical account of Queen Esther, Hannah jumped into marriage with someone who didn’t share her beliefs with too much haste. It still felt like she had alternatives. I would have preferred to see it come about by forces outside her control. Also, Karim was too perfect. I don’t mean this altogether in a bad way. He is a be-still-my-beating heart, melt-into-a-puddle hero — wait till you read some of his lines — which made it hard to see why God would tell His followers not to be unequally yoked. Karim was too good, too understanding, and too accepting. The conflict that would arise in a marriage of two people from opposing faiths was not present.

All in all, it’s a beautifully written story that needed certain lessons to come across a bit more clearly.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

Love in Three Quarter Time (The Vienna Trilogy #1) by Rachel McMillan

Genre: Romance
Publication Date: February 2018

Evelyn Watt tumbled head over heels when Austrian marketing director Rudy Moser walked into their Boston firm. Suddenly jobless, Evelyn follows him across the ocean to lend her American vernacular in cataloging his family’s heirlooms for a grand Valentine’s Day auction. During that time, she will sleep, eat, and breathe everything Vienna, and hopefully win Rudy over in the process.

The city provides an intoxicating blend of waltzing, ancient treasures, and coffee galore at her favorite local hangout. But when Evelyn stumbles upon a Moser family secret, she must reevaluate what she believes to know of Rudy. Meanwhile, her Café Mozart tablemate a grumpy and perplexing professor, Klaus Bauner, just might hold the key to the Moser’s past and her own heart.

An exotic location, a heroine infatuated with a man who is all wrong for her, a swoony professor waiting for her to figure it out, Love in Three Quarter Time possesses all the makings of a sweet, Hallmark-like romance. Rachel McMillan carries her readers to the city of her heart, Vienna, making them fall in love with it as much as she has.

Handkerchief-carrying, satchel-toting, and spectacles-wearing Professor Bauner — not to be confused with Professor Bhaer of Little Women fame — knows how to make a woman’s heart pitter patter. Old fashioned in the best sense of the word, he is the perfect gentleman.

Evelyn — oh Evelyn — at times I wanted to slap her atop the head. How can anyone have eyes for Rudy when Bauner exists? With a few extra curves and two left feet, Evelyn offers a realistic character to root for and shows that true beauty doesn’t resemble society’s notions of “perfection.” Introverted and lacking in confidence, the heroine discovers that sometimes the best things in life come when you’re willing to step (or fly) out of your comfort zone.

My complaint with this novella is its length. Not because the story lacked anything, but because I wanted more. The end snuck up on me far too quickly. Then again, it resembles an espresso, small yet potent. Readers who enjoy breathtaking locales and professor types, or might secretly harbor the desire of being swept off their feet in a foreign country will want to experience this tale. McMillan fans keep in mind that Love in Three Quarter Time is a contemporary novella unlike her previous works which fall under historical fiction.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!