On My Radar

Even though this book has a January 2018 release date, advance reader copies are already floating around, and the film rights have been sold.

Involving the CIA and Russian sleeper cells in the United States – something that really does still happen – this is *exactly* the type of book I want to read. (Blurb below.)

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

Naked in Death: $2.99

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

This is worth picking up for this price. The first book in J.D. Robb’s epic thirty-nine or so book (so far) futuristic crime series, I’m sure many of you have already read this first one, first published in 1995. Eve Dallas is the brilliant heroine of the piece, but many people have heard of the series because of the iconic Roarke.

Amazon Australia

Amazon US 

Here is the novel that started it all – the first book in J. D. Robb’s number-one New York Times-bestselling In Death series, featuring New York City homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.

It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion.

When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome… and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Going Twice by Sharon Sala

Going Twice by Sharon Sala

New York Times bestselling author Sharon Sala enters the eye of the maelstrom as death and disaster stalk Tornado Alley—aided by an obsessive madman.

As bodies pile up in the wake of a storm—stripped, tortured and grimly posed—authorities must admit the unthinkable. The serial killer dubbed the Stormchaser has returned following a tornado and taken it upon himself to bring the death toll up to where he believes it belongs.

FBI investigator Wade Luckett is back on the case, assisted by an agent Wade knows professionally and personally: his ex-wife, Jo. Neither time nor the tragedy that tore them apart have blunted the ache Wade feels for brave, beautiful Jo. And though she tries to deny it, she feels the same. But the stirrings of renewed romance will have to wait until they catch a killer.

The Stormchaser has no intention of getting caught. He’s set his sights on a new victim. Jo can forget about the lifetime she dreams of spending with Wade. She’ll be lucky to see another day.

Going Twice by Sharon Sala

The hero of this book is supposed to look just like Channing Tatum (to the point that people ask him for his autograph). The model on the cover does not!

Hey – a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. I didn’t realise I’d missed them! Natural disaster suspense books seem to be the new thing, but this is only about the second I’ve read.

Before the romantic suspense genre became Troubled yet sensitive Navy SEAL and his sequel bait buddies, this is what it was all about. Serial killers and FBI agents and strong women working just as hard towards catching the bad guy. Oh, and a romantic relationship to boot.

Going Twice is clearly a second book in a series (it actually is, but this one feels like it’s a follow-on when some others work better as standalones). As ever, I’ve not read the first. This didn’t mean I couldn’t follow the action, but we have the same villain as in the first book (which means I want to know how the crime was resolved in book #1!) and there’re a lot of characters with friendships and relationships already established.

Something that has changed in romantic suspense recently is that most books start off with a main character (usually the heroine) in danger, whereas this is more like your standard murder mystery, where the danger comes in from an outside, unrelated source.

Our hero and heroine are divorced, after heroine Jo was shot and lost her baby. Their reconciliation happens fast and with few obstacles, because the focus of this story is very much on solving the case. Because of that, a great deal of the story is told from the perspective of the serial killer.

One thing I can’t say I loved was that this is an incomplete story (as, I imagine, the one before was). You’re not going to get all your plot points tied up at the end, which isn’t exactly what you expect with this sort of book.

I’ve heard a lot about Sharon Sala, and I’m glad I finally actually got to read one of her books!

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 10th – 16th February

Gracie Gold USA Figure Skating Team Free Skate Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

Gracie Gold

It was a bit of an odd week as far as reading went. I finished a couple of Regency romances, read an excellent upcoming Sarah Mayberry book. I’m feeling a little restless – I keep browsing the review books on NetGalley, looking for whatever it is I’m in the mood for, but I haven’t figured it out yet!

Is this the first time the Winter Olympics turned into the Summer Olympics?

Sochi has been 18°C (64.4°F) for a few days now! What a strange mess of an Olympics this has been.

Here is a great series of images outlining why the Opening Ceremony was so incredibly offensive – particularly to Ukrainians. Even if The Huffington Post does call Kyiv by the Russian name, Kiev! I was also hugely annoyed that Sochi used so many Ukrainians past and present to represent “Russia”…

Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony 2014

My review of Her Rancher Rescuer by Donna Alward

Her Rancher Rescuer by Donna Alward

My review of The Bear by Claire Cameron

The Bear by Claire Cameron

My review of Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter

Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter

My review of A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

The Week: 13th – 19th January

Hot Canberra Australia Evening Sky Sunset Mountains Brindabella Ranges 15th January 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney

The view from our kitchen at about 8:30pm on our hottest evening this week.

This week was all about the heatwave. I achieved about a third of as much as I wanted to, because Canberra’s temperature hovered around 40°C (104°F) every day. In the middle of all of that we celebrated Ukrainian New Year on Tuesday – champagne when it’s over forty degrees isn’t the smartest thing to drink! We’re supposed to take down the Christmas decorations today, but it’s the last thing I feel like doing at the moment.

Hot Canberra Australia Evening Sky Sunset 15th January 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney

And from the other side of the house.

I think my latest Regency/Victorian reading spree is coming to an end. I really do wish publishers would package their books better. You never know if you’re going to pick up a serious historical drama/romance or a Disney-style romp where 19th century people all run around having casual sex, getting divorces on a whim and chatting in modern American slang. I’m getting tired of the second kind. If you want to write contemporary characters, then write contemporary books!

Of course, I’ll be reading more of them (I’m addicted), but it’s time to extend my reading in some other genres, too.

What I want out of 2014 – Romantic Suspense

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

My review of Playing for Love at Deep Haven by Katy Regnery

Playing for Love at Deep Haven (Enchanted Places, Book 1) by Katy Regnery

My review of Scandalously Yours by Cara Elliott

Scandalously Yours by Cara Elliott

My review of After the Abduction by Sabrina Jeffries

After the Abduction by Sabrina Jeffries

My review of What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

What the Duke Desires (The Duke's Men, #1) by Sabrina Jeffries

And – finally – look at these amazing bookmarks!

Girl In the Rain Bookmark

What I want out of 2014 – Romantic Suspense

I have a great love of romantic suspense, but I hardly read any suspense books in 2013.

Here’s what I’d like to see in 2014 – the things that would encourage me to seek out the genre more often:

  • Ease up on the Navy SEALs! It has become so clichéd it’s practically a joke. Navy SEALs popping up in stories about small town bakeries. Navy SEALs babysitting. Navy SEALs who also happen to be billionaire businessmen and Nobel Prize winners. Navy SEALs running BDSM clubs in their spare time (didn’t know they had THAT much spare time!). There’re other military men worthy of your attention. Unless SEALs particularly fit into your storyline, please stop including them!

Navy SEAL Romance Book Covers

Every man and his dog is a Navy SEAL these days!

I’ve not read any of the books above, so please don’t take this as a criticism of them in particular!

  • A move back to real romantic suspense. The subgenre has divided into two parts; neither of which #1 fits definitions of ‘romantic suspense’ or #2 interests me as much. The first direction is to give all the characters magical, paranormal abilities. If I wanted mind reading and magic ocean-crossing healing powers, I’d be reading paranormal romance. If I want contemporary romance with any suspense a distant, distant, distant second, I’d pick up a contemporary romance.
  • Fewer ‘secret league of stupendously strong men operating major (yet still somehow secret) security companies on US soil’ and instead, more:

Kaylea Cross Pamela Clare Cindy Gerard Romantic Suspense Book Covers

  • Books that deal with real life issues. The world is a messy, dangerous place. There’s no need to manufacture moustache-twirling mega-villains who represent nobody in particular when there’re so many real issues you could be dealing with. I want more Kaylea Crosses and Pamela Clares. More Cindy Gerards. More authors willing to do the research to create suspense stories involving current issues and brave enough to use settings that actually exist. Books grounded in the gritty reality, that’s what I want!

Currently Free: Angel America by A. Husain

Angel America by A. Husain is free at the moment.

Angel America by A. Husain

When Adelaide Pincher landed the Angel America account, she thought she had it made. Angel, the hippest airline around, sent Adelaide’s career skyrocketing and made her a small fortune. But Adelaide should have listened to her ex-boyfriend-a persistent reporter investigating the airline. Now he’s dead and Adelaide’s in the crosshairs, unaware that she’s up against a professional killer. Disgraced Pakistani-American cop Jez Haider has his own motive for tracking the assassin: his brother has been murdered and the police have Jez pegged as the prime suspect. Adelaide and Jez join forces when their parallel investigations collide, and soon discover all roads lead to Angel America…

Recent Book Purchases

I always seem to come home from trips with more new books than anything else. Even though there wasn’t much in the way of shopping in Coolangatta, the little newsagency across the road from our accommodation had a stand of books. Here’s what I picked up:

Feel the Heat by Cindy Gerard

Feel the Heat by Cindy Gerard

I actually already own this one, but I have this thing where I have to buy Cindy Gerard’s books whenever I see them in shops!

A RACE FOR SURVIVAL . . .

Bold, blond Defence Intelligence officer B. J. Chase isn’t exactly thrilled when she’s summoned from personal leave to investigate an alarming national security breach—until the suspicious death of a government official blows her covert mission sky high.

TURNS INTO A HEART-POUNDING ADVENTURE . . .

Gorgeous Black Ops bad boy Raphael Mendoza always feared his family’s dark history would haunt him. But he never expected it might hold the key to dismantling a rogue weapons system. Now with cool B.J. Chase posing as his hot babe fiancée, he returns to his uncle in Colombia to convince him he can be trusted with the family’s dirtiest business secrets.

. . . AND IGNITES A PASSIONATE FIRE.

Carrying out a deception among ruthless killers brings Rafe and B.J. too close to ignore the heat between them. Now, they must work together as the closest of partners as the countdown to international catastrophe closes in.

Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown

Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown

For Paris Gibson, her popular late-night radio show is both an escape and her one real contact with the outside world.

Since moving to Austin to ease the pain of past, tragic mistakes, she has led a life of virtual solitude, coming alive only when she hosts her show. To her loyal listeners, she is a wise and trusted friend who not only takes their music requests but listens to their problems and occasionally dispenses advice.

Paris’s world of isolation is brutally threatened, however, when one listener — a man who identifies himself only as “Valentino” — tells her that her on-air advice to the girl he loves has caused her to leave him and that now he intends to exact his revenge. First he plans to kill the girl, whom he has abducted — which he says he will do in 72 hours — then he will come after Paris.

Joined by the Austin police department, Paris plunges into a race against time in an effort to find Valentino before he can carry out his threat to kill — and to kill again. To her dismay, she finds that one of the people she must work with is crime psychologist Dean Malloy, a man with whom she shares a history that had a catastrophic effect on both their lives. His presence arouses old passions, forcing Paris to confront painful memories that she had come to Austin to forget.

As the clock ticks down, and Valentino’s threats come closer and closer to becoming a reality, Paris suddenly finds herself forced to deal with a killer who may not be a stranger at all.

A signed copy of Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracey O’Hara

Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracy O’Hara

An ancient darkness has risen from the ashes . . . and terror has been loosed upon an unsuspecting world.

Forensic witch Bianca Sin has never seen anything like it: homeless teenage girls torn to pieces by dark magic in the cold shadows of the city. More terrifying still is the symbol written in blood on an alley wall—the unmistakable seal of the Dark Brethren.

Teaming up with NYPD homicide detective Lancelot McManus and an elite task force headed by the shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie, Bianca knows her worst fears have finally come to pass. A new war of annihilation is looming that will plunge the worlds of vampire, shapeshifter, and human into chaos—and two adversarial tribes locked in uneasy truce will need to take up arms together to save the children. Trust will be essential for Sin and McManus, as the hunt forces them to confront their deepest terrors.

For the ultimate evil is no longer approaching.

It’s here. 

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

An FBI agent, rotting away in a high-security prison for a murder he did not commit … his brilliant psychotic brother, about to perpetrate a horrific crime … a young woman with an extraordinary past, on the edge of a violent breakdown … an ancient Egyptian tomb with an enigmatic curse, about to be unveiled at a celebrity-studded New York gala.

Currently Free: The Wild Place by Barbara Goodheart

The Wild Place by Barbara Goodheart is free at the moment.

The Wild Place by Barbara Goodheart

Julie Landis, a successful account executive and community volunteer, is injured risking her life to save two young children. She doesn’t expect the fifteen minutes of fame that follow–not to mention the anonymous hate letters, sadistic acts, and death threats that result from the publicity. Who is her tormentor, and why does he hate her? She has no idea what he looks like, or if she ever had contact with him. Nothing in her past would explain why someone would want revenge against her–or so she thinks.

As her unknown predator stalks her, leaving taunting clues, his actions become increasingly bizarre and horrifying. When he ruthlessly murders a woman, Julie knows that her life, and that of her lover, Andy, is in grave danger.

She desperately tries to identify her tormentor, but before she can, he strikes without warning. He viciously attacks her. She fights back. But as her strength is slipping away, she sees him turn his fury on Andy. She must find a way to stop him–or die trying.