Audiobook Review: Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

because-youre-mineGenre: Romance, Suspense, Mystery
Publisher: Thomas Nelson & eStories
Audiobook Narrator: Devon O’Day
Publication Date: January 2017

Alanna’s life shatters when a car bomb kills her husband while their Celtic band tours the U.S. Her sole comfort lies in their unborn baby. But when her father-in-law threatens to take custody, Alanna will do whatever it takes to protect the only piece of Liam she has left.

The band’s manager offers her a solution — a marriage of convenience that procures U.S. citizenship and freedom from her father-in-law’s control. However, when Alanna arrives at her new husband’s deteriorating mansion, she discovers that her problems are far from over. As bizarre things start to happen, placing Alanna and her child’s life in danger, she begins to suspect that her husband’s killer just may want her life too.

I wanted to like this story. I really did. I’ve heard great things about Colleen Coble’s novels and couldn’t wait to experience her writing for myself. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong book to start with. With an intriguing premise that sadly falls flat in every aspect, I struggled to finish Because You’re Mine.

Where to begin? Alanna proved to be an unrelatable and unsympathetic character. Her actions and decisions were completely unbelievable considering her age (30), let alone her upbringing. She ignored all the red flags and her friend’s warnings, making it hard to feel sorry for her when she got into trouble. Her attraction to her new husband, Barry, comes on much too quickly and I never saw the larger-than-life romance that supposedly existed between her and Liam. For someone who had just buried her soul mate, she barely mourned.

The story’s direction could be seen from the start, destroying any attempts at creating suspense or mystery. I knew the “big twist” within the first couple chapters. The fact that the characters didn’t make the discovery sooner was unrealistic. In this day and age, it would never have gone that long.

Coble mentions supernatural topics such as exorcism, soul possession, banshees, etc. in a way that didn’t work with the story. The faith thread was vague at best and not what one would associate with Christian Fiction.

The setting was the novel’s sole redeeming quality. The decaying mansion, isolated location, and murky alligator-inhabited swamp offered the only source of suspense. Even so, it couldn’t make up for the lack of character development and predictable plot, making Because You’re Mine one book I cannot recommend.

My favorite part, however, was listening to it as an audiobook. I love audiobooks! They allow me to listen to a story while I cook, clean, etc. For the most part, Devon O’Day did a good job. She read in a clear, even voice, which made her easy to understand. That being said, her attempts at Irish and Southern accents failed. Also, her tone didn’t always match the mood and her interpretation of the characters’ voices didn’t remain consistent. Nonetheless, this wouldn’t stop me from listening to other audiobooks she’s narrated.

Review copy provided by eStories. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.



Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2) by Dani Pettrey

still-lifeGenre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2017

When a controversial shot turned Avery Tate into a persona non grata in the photography world, she applied for a position as a crime scene photographer. To her surprise, the crime scene analyst, Parker Mitchell, hired her. But when feelings toward the man started to grow, she bolted.

Now, in order to support a friend who modeled for a photography exhibit, Avery must face the very community who rejected her. But when Skylar doesn’t appear and the photographer insists he didn’t take the only shot of her posing dead, the evening takes a macabre turn.

With Skylar missing, Avery has no option but to turn to Parker for help. However, working with him could prove more dangerous than she ever imagined. Not only is she falling harder for someone whose heart belongs to another, their investigation also leads to a twisted individual — one who now has his sights set on Avery.

The guys are back! Longtime friends Parker, Griffin, and Declan tackle another case in the second installment of Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series. A story of second chances, Still Life centers on Parker and Avery.

Darker than her previous novels, due to Avery’s broken past and one very disturbed man’s obsession with death, the author still manages to find the balance of showing sin and evil without going overboard with gory details.

The romance aspect differs from the typical path so many stories follow in that Parker and Avery are already in love with each other by the time the reader joins them. This allows us to see some struggles they faced as a couple and how their pasts colored their new relationship. Given her history, I could sympathize with Avery’s fear of rejection. She did too well as it was, considering all she had experienced.

While I love Pettrey’s style and writing, this book didn’t rank as high for me as her previous novels. I found the mystery too predictable. Despite the presence of red-herrings, I easily saw through them as characters and events that were only meant to mislead. Also, the thread of faith didn’t flow as naturally. Nonetheless, I enjoyed getting to know Parker and Avery, and more than ever, I can’t wait to find out more about the missing fourth friend — Luke.

I recommend Still Life to Pettrey’s fans and romantic suspense readers, though I would suggest starting with Cold Shot if you haven’t read it yet.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.


Right Behind You (FBI Profiler #7) by Lisa Gardner

right-behind-youGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Eight years ago, Sharlah Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death to save their lives. Now thirteen, she has found a home with ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner. Trust, however, doesn’t come easily. Life has taught the young girl all-too-well of the evil that exists in the world. Still, she can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, she’ll finally get a shot at the family she’s never had.

When a shooting at a local convenience store leaves two dead, police identify the killer as Telly Ray Nash. As a manhunt ensues, it becomes evident that the hunted is on a hunt of his own, and his prey is none other than his little sister. With the number of bodies mounting, Sharlah must decide whether to run for her life or confront the brother she hasn’t seen since the day he killed for her.

Right Behind You delivers a gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. Lisa Gardner expertly toys with the readers’ emotions dragging them through the entire feelings spectrum — more than once.

Without a doubt, Gardner’s novels straddle and even push the limits of my intense/dark tolerance level. Yet, her intricate characters and nail-biting suspense bring me back time and time again, and Right Behind You is probably my favorite. The author explores the importance of family and the devastation that can come from the broken relationships within it.

My heart went out to Sharlah immediately. Understandably, her tragic background has left her damaged and wary, but despite that, she has managed to hold on to a sliver of hope. For that matter, out of all the Gardner novels I’ve read, I would say this one had the most “hopeful” ending. That’s not to say the characters won’t have some serious baggage to wade through once all is said and done — and that’s not counting the issues they already had coming into the story.

The author brilliantly utilizes the wilds of Oregon and the various settings for her purposes, effectively isolating the characters and heightening the suspense.

Though Right Behind You is the seventh installment in the FBI Profiler series, the first six aren’t imperative to following the story. Until this one, I hadn’t read a Quincy and Rainie novel, and I didn’t feel lost once. As always, readers should be prepared for mature content and strong language.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.


The 4th Man (An FBI Profiler/D.D. Warren Short Story) by Lisa Gardner

the-4th-manGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Five years ago, the strangulation of a young woman in the library stairwell rocked a college community. With no physical evidence, no signs of sexual assault, or witnesses, the police had to release the three men who were with her in the building — her boyfriend and two campus security guards.

Ex-FBI profile Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner agree to help D.D. Warren look into the cold case. With only a dead girl and missing shoes to go off of, figuring out if the killer is one of their three suspects or a fourth they haven’t considered will prove to be only the beginning.

Lisa Gardner’s The 4th Man presents a classic locked-room mystery, in which the only thing more surprising than the killer’s identity is the motive. If not for the fact that the author garnered her inspiration from a real-life case, I would have thought the motive unbelievable.

Probably due to its length, this short story didn’t contain the depth found in Gardner’s novels. The characters, even the recurring ones, felt a bit like caricatures. D.D., notorious for her hands-on, dog-with-a-bone approach (the reason we all love her), seemed uncharacteristically detached. In fact, her willingness to simply present the facts to Quincy and Rainie and let them run with it made me wonder if she had actually solved the case and was testing her friends.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed piecing together the mystery and liked The 4th Man even more than last year’s short story, 3 Truths and a Lie. I recommend it to Gardner’s fans.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.


Burning Proof (Cold Case Justice #2) by Janice Cantore

burning-proofGenre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: March 2016

Detective Abby Hart has spent months investigating the brutal murder of a young girl. But when the arrest takes a horrible and tragic turn, Abby finds herself questioning everything, including her calling as a cop. As she grapples with her emotions, she finds herself once more confronted with questions about the blaze that killed her parents twenty seven years ago.

Private Investigator Luke Murphy can’t shake Abby’s former partner’s final words. According to the dying man proof exists about what happened the night of the fire. When Luke’s search unearths a clue, he hesitates to tell Abby, fearing it might be her breaking point. But his discovery risks exposure when Luke and Abby join forces to solve a decade-old kidnapping.

I enjoy series with overarching mysteries, unfortunately Burning Proof fails to deliver, falling flat in both the suspense and romance departments. Janice Cantore tells rather than shows and rehashes the same information/conversations ad nauseam, bogging down the story. The lack of action also does little to progress the plot. Riddled with unnatural dialogue, it felt like the characters said what was expected of them rather than what would flow naturally.

After two books of Abby’s fluctuating between her fiancé and Luke, she has long ceased to be sympathetic as she strings along two men for no other reason than to have them both at her disposal. Through the detective, Cantore explores the difficult topic of PTSD, but again the attempt falls short. Abby comes across as an annoying, self-absorbed teenager rather than a woman struggling with the effects of a traumatic experience. Worse yet, after a three-day bout with PTSD (because it feels more like a cold than a mental disorder), the detective is suddenly an expert on the subject and the only salvation of a young woman who has suffered with it for a decade.

Cantore introduces a new character in an attempt to infuse conflict into the Luke/Abby relationship, but she only succeeds in making Luke now appear as inconsistent and undecided as Abby.

Despite the ongoing case that won’t reach a resolution until book three, I’m not sure I’ll read the final installment of the Cold Case Justice series.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!