Best Selling Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers, & Horror

Romantic Mystery & Suspense

Coven at Collington by Shereen Vedam

Coven at Callington*

Witch Wars, Intrigue, and Romance in Fantastical Regency England

Fresh from fending off an attack by hellhounds, Guard of the Green Cross–a secret arm of the Anglican Church meant to handle evil forces and entities if they rise from darkness–the Earl of Braden gets new orders from the Archbishop that are directly opposed to a central tenet of the guard’s code: do not interfere in disputes between witches and warlocks. Centuries ago witch hunts blackened the name of guards (then known as knights), so meddling is now forbidden. Braden has been tasked with retrieving the son of a warlock, who was supposedly taken by a demon, as well as destroy the coven in the area. More is happening at Callington than Braden imagined, and he is more than tempted to enlist the aid of the coven protectress, Merryn, to help figure it all out. Merryn believes that the same warlock who killed her younger brother has taken the boy.

Will Braden succeed in rescuing the boy? What exactly is going on between the warlocks and witches in Callington? Will Braden risk his position to follow what he knows is right? Will he fall for the coven protectress?

The author has done a fantastic job of creating a magical version of Regency England. I love how the first scene in Regency times a flame in a streetlight is talking! I literally did a double take to see if I was reading correctly! There are other magical elements as well, some of which are not truly explained until later. I thought the idea of having this secret group of guards under direct orders of the Archbishop of Canterbury was inspired. Braden is a complicated, fascinating hero to watch wrestle with right and wrong, on both personal and professional levels.

With elements of fantasy, the paranormal, intrigue, and romance . . . what’s not to like!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Daring the Detective by Riley Cole

Daring the Detective*

Mismatched Pair Seeks Answers

Zadie, the heroine, is immediately uneasy when she comes to the Restitution League to ask them to take her case. She was expecting to find fellow thieves and other reformed criminals, not a police detective. Not quite sure whether to trust sharing the full story with the Sweets and the detective, she ultimately decides that her aunt’s life is more important than the possibility of arrest. Her aunt has gone missing under suspicious circumstances, and she fears that her business of retrieving stolen objects has led one of her victims to strike. Detective Caleb, the hero, believes he knows her type and suspects she is keeping details from them. The League does take up her case, but will everything change when other law enforcement believe that Zadie is not only involved in her aunt’s disappearance but also in her murder? Will romantic sparks fly between this honorable detective and a tarnished lady?

For those who read the two previous books in the Restitution League series, it will come as a surprise that this book is not about one of the Sweets. After all, Briar still hasn’t met found her mate. The writing in this book is not quite as snarky and humorous as the first two books, but this read about a very mismatched pair who have a hard time trusting each other in the face of danger is a compelling one. Detective Caleb puts his career in jeopardy, and Zadie’s very life may hang in the balance.

Seducing the Scientist by Riley Cole

Seducing the Scientist*

Edison Meets His Match in Female Scientist

If you’re familiar with the first book of series about the Restitution League, you know about the cousins who are the core of it. This is Edison’s story, and has he ever met his match! The league investigates a case brought to them by a man who is clearly lying about it and find themselves embroiled in a need to protect a female scientist on the brink of sharing her world-changing discovery. Will the League be able to keep her safe? Will her invention fall into the wrong hands? Will others take credit for what she has done?

Just like the first book, I found this story to be delightfully well-written. In the parts narrated by Edison, he comes across as cocky, slightly jaded, and on the prowl for his next adventure or female. His commentary is often quite amusing, like when he said the heroine had “the delicacy of a stevedore,” which made me laugh out loud. Other sections are narrated by Philomena and Ada; the former is Edison’s sister who was the heroine of Book 1, and the latter is this book’s heroine. I love Ada. She’s a strong, smart woman who has taken care of herself and her grandmother while pursuing her interest in science. Ada is a smart cookie but vulnerable, too, especially in her dealings with men about whom she might have a romantic interest as well as those who would belittle her mind and discoveries.

Those who enjoyed Philomena’s and Spencer’s story in Book 1 will be happy to hear that we continue to see their relationship grow and flourish in this book.

This delightful series about the Restitution League is for readers who appreciate strong women, good-hearted rogues, witty internal monologue and external dialogue, and stories where good–even if in the guise of reformed criminals–triumphs over evil. Personally, I can’t wait for the next installment!

For whatever reason, this book is listed as Saving the Scientist on Goodreads.

French Restoration by Sara Claridge

French Restoration

Chateau Restoration with Intrigue and Romance

This tale about the restoration of a French chateau has both mystery and romance. Alex, the wealthy American new owner of the chateau, wants it converted into an exclusive luxury hotel. Working with him is a French interior designer, Chantal, who has unique ideas that align with his vision. Both characters have complicated pasts and hopes for the future. But something’s amiss at the chateau. Strange things keep happening that put the project at risk and even in danger, and these incidents escalate as the book goes on. What secrets are in Chantal’s past? Will the chateau renovation actually get completed? Will Alex prove himself to his father and take over the company?

I didn’t like the hero much at first and actually had a hard time getting past that. He comes across as a bit of a chauvinist, which is not my favorite kind of hero in a romance! He tends to make wild, usually sexist assumptions about Chantal. We do find out that this is due to a recent nasty breakup, but he’s still a bit of a jerk at times. Chantal was intriguing, as it was clear there was a bit more to her than what could be seen at the surface.

There were some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but this did not overly detract from the story.

If you like stories with a different setting than is typical, like modern France, and enjoy a little bit of intrigue with your romance, you might find this story enjoyable.

I did receive a free advance copy, but that did not affect my review.

The Viscount’s Promise by Joyce Alec

Rejecting the Rogue

Did He Commit The Crimes?

What a dramatic beginning for this book! We are placed in a courtroom where a man is being sentenced for murder. On the dock, the accused man proclaims his innocence and asks his friend in the courtroom take care of his sister. After exacting this promise, the accused then drinks from a vial and keels over dead. After a year of mourning has passed, this friend, Lord Sharpe, as well as a kindly marquess and marchioness, come to town to support this sister, Julianna, in a London season. Lord Sharpe has been troubled by the brother’s claim of innocence and is not quite willing to believe that his former friend is guilty. Will Lord Sharpe figure out the correct murderer who framed his friend? Will he fall for Julianna himself or help her to wed another man?

I found the character of Lord Sharpe to be an interesting one. He is not portrayed as the typical Regency romance hero, who can definitely be a little touchy-feely to appeal to modern readers. Instead, he is portrayed as stiff and formal at first, bringing to mind Mr. Darcy (although he is more willing to dance!). He’s one of the reasons I think the book should have been longer. It would have been more appropriate for him to gradually become more comfortable in Julianna’s presence, and a longer book would have been needed for his character to relax. For a novella, this book has some surprising twists and turns. In fact, that’s the second reason why I think the book should have been expanded: to give more insight into thoughts, emotions, and events of the story.

I thought it odd that states that it takes place in “Nineteenth century, England” while the cover states it is a Regency; why not be specific if you are as on-point as Regency? The Regency period is a very narrow timeframe in English history and certainly not nearly as vague as the 19th century!

There are some issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Surprisingly, even a character’s name was misspelled. Sometimes the baron is either referred to as Baron Holland or Baron Hollard. There are some issues with word choice as well, as sometimes the same or similar words were used right next to each other.

Despite all that, this is a relatively well written short Regency suspense.

Rejecting the Rogue by Riley Cole

Rejecting the Rogue

Delicious Victorian Romantic Suspense

We’re in a slightly fantastical Victorian England. The heroine, Philomena Sweet, has done numerous despicable deeds with her cousins at the insistence of her father. She is now determined to make restitution, one case at a time. Renowned for her safe-cracking skills, she now uses them for good and not for evil.

A client comes to the group, asking for help to retrieve a journal that contains many secrets that could be damaging and is now being held for potential future use as blackmail. This is precisely the type of work that the Restitution League does.

Unbeknownst to the group, another one of London’s underbelly is being asked to steal this journal. None other than Spencer Crane, master jewel thief and Philomena’s former betrothed whom she caught in flagrante delicto, has also been charged to retrieve this by a former associate who threatens both Philomena and Spencer’s sister if he refuses to do the job.

What happens when these two cross paths? Will sparks other than those caused by anger result? Will Philomena and her group be able to help the client?

This book was well written. While there is more than one narrator, I love the section from Philomena’s perspective. She comes across as a lady with a jaded but hopeful, slightly snarky attitude, and it is delicious to read. The book has an edgy yet humorous, not-quite-real vibe to it.

Free Romantic Mystery Dec 15

Here are some free mystery and suspense romance novels I found today! Witness protection, district attorneys, Russian mafia…

Click on the book cover to be taken to its page at Amazon.

 

Book Mini Blurb
The witness protection program has given me the fresh start I’ve always dreamed of. A new home. A new name. A new life. For the first time in ten years, it feels like I can breathe again. But the cost of freedom is more than I bargained for. And the only other person who cares if I live or die is a masked stranger. So I’m putting my life in the vigilante’s hands. And maybe a piece of my heart along with it. Even though I’m worried that he’s just as dangerous as the man I sent to prison.
Jada McLean is about to get married in nine days when she walks in on her fiancé in a little more than a compromising position. Days later, she’s on a trip that she intends to be relaxing and a prelude to her fresh start when she runs into the rude, obnoxious, but gorgeous Jonathan Kole. Jonathan Kole is San Francisco’s newest District Attorney. When he finds himself deeply attracted to a stunning beauty, he has no idea that she’s about to become in BIG trouble with the law- and he’ll be the one presiding over her trial…
The cards are dealt, the bets are placed, and the game of the century begins. Emilia Fox seems to have misfortune dogging her every step. In the dead of night, she is kidnapped from her front door by Russia’s most powerful mafia crime boss, a man who is known only as Korol – the King. He is the phantom of the criminal underworld, and Emilia is subjected to his brand of torture for over a year before Fate intervenes in the unlikeliest of ways. Viktor Orlov has lost everything. He has given up his prestige, his family, his honor, all for a woman that haunts his every waking moment… and fuels his darkest desires. She is his queen, his captain, and the moment he helped Korol abduct her from her home, she became his obsession…
From Champion Jockey at 22 to down-and-out at 27, Eddie Malloy is bitter and desolate, reduced to living in an ancient caravan working for a tyrannical horse dealer. Estranged from his family and the sport he loves, Eddie cannot forget or forgive the racing authorities for believing false allegations of horse doping against him which robbed him of his riding licence. With another miserable Christmas looming, Eddie’s discovery of murder victim Danny Gordon in the racing capital of Newmarket offers him a perilous path to the resurrection of his career.
When a mysterious woman offers her a chance to punish her boyfriend for cheating, eighteen-year-old Heather doesn’t hesitate to say yes. She will have four days to realize her vengeance fantasies and teach Daniel a lesson he will never forget.
How far will she go? And will she let him live? Heather doesn’t know that yet. One thing is for sure–neither one of them will be the same after this.

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    The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

    One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or from the author.

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    Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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