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What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

I love reading novels that are set in Texas, especially when the author lives in the Lone Star State and knows how real Texans live and speak.  So many times, authors set their story on a Texas ranch and insert “y’all” in every sentence of dialogue, which is completely unrealistic.  Kellie Coates Gilbert dispels that notion and also shows that there are sophisticated and polished ladies and gentlemen in the Lone Star State.  Not every Texan wears boots and a cowboy hat or drives a big truck or lives on a ranch.  

In What Matters Most, Gilbert takes us into the hill country and the state capital of Austin, where political power and agendas provide a charged atmosphere for a Cinderella story.  Leta Breckenridge has faced challenges and difficult choices in her life, but she has always kept her priorities straight.  When she is offered a dream job with a huge salary, it is almost too good to be true.  

Nathan Emerson is a young senator with deep roots and high aspirations in politics.  His family and long-time girlfriend want to see him unseat the current governor, but Nathan is unsure if this is the right time to make his move.  When he meets Leta, he is intrigued by her and her current situation.

This book gives readers an inside look into the inner workings of politics, while keeping the story light enough for a romance.  What Matters Most asks the characters to make difficult choices based on what is right rather than what is easy or most beneficial.  The moral of the story is one that could apply to anyone in almost any situation.  This novel is well-written and interesting.


I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Missing by Lisa Harris


Several months ago, I read Vendetta by Lisa Harris and felt I had finally found something similar to the FBI suspense thrillers I used to read (until they got weird).  Missing is Harris’s second novel in the Nikki Boyd Files and picks up just 5 weeks after Vendetta and follows Nikki and her team with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Missing Persons Special Task Force as an investigation unfolds.  

This investigation starts with homicides, but Nikki and her team race to find two missing people.  They are met with unusual circumstances that drag Nikki’s friend Tyler into the investigation.  Time is running out, and more people end up dead before the team gets a good lead.  The investigation reveals a complicated and tangled web of deceit and greed that leaves the reader in suspense through the end. 

Missing is a fast-paced, suspenseful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.  I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t wait to get to the resolution.  I am most definitely reading the third installment next spring. 

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Murder Comes by Mail by A. H. Gabhart 

About six months ago, I read Murder at the Courthouse, which introduced us to Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane and the rest of the characters in Gabhart’s small town of Hidden Springs.  The first novel in the series was so interesting that I requested the second installment, Murder Comes by Mail, from the publisher.  This second novel was as well-written as the previous one, but an undertone of evil was more prevalent throughout Murder Comes by Mail.  

From the first chapter, Michael Keane has a sense of foreboding that terrible things are to come.  Who knew that saving someone’s life could cause so many problems?  What sinister game is the killer playing?  The mystery and suspense for Michael continue through the final chapter.  

The life-long friendship between Michael and Alexandra continues to hover between friends and something more, but they are both afraid of venturing into the unknown.  There is just enough romance to keep the romantic happy, but not enough to turn away those who have no interest in romance.  

My only complaint (if I can even call it that) is that I figured out who the killer was before the main character did.  I just researched the phrase “whodunnit” and learned that this is a genre of books and movies.  

I’m accustomed to authors who conceal the identity of the perpetrator until the climax, so I was surprised to be able to deduce who the killer was in both of Gabhart’s novels.  Now I understand, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the Hidden Springs Mysteries series. 

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  

Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley

I only realized after reading this novel in its entirety that it is the fourth installment in Patricia Bradley’s Logan Point series.  Now I’m curious to know which characters were the focus of each of the previous books.  I could hazard a guess at two, but Silence in the Dark read like a stand-alone book and didn’t rehash each character’s background, so it could be any current or former resident of Logan Point. 

Bailey Adams is a strong-willed, independent woman who has run from her problems in Logan Point, Mississippi, to new troubles in Mexico.  She left behind a man who wanted to marry her while she pursued her calling to serve the rural people of Mexico through mission work.  A simple trip home and a favor to a friend turns into a nightmare as Bailey and one of her young students are pursued relentlessly. 

Danny Maxwell happened to be in the right place at the right time to help rescue Bailey, but she is just as resistant to his love as when she fled Logan Point two years prior.  Danny is determined to win her heart again, but he struggles simply to keep her safe.

I must confess that I was not “into” this book for the first two chapters.  (Perhaps the narrative would have held my attention better if I had read the previous books in the series and had already known the main characters. Or perhaps it was only my state of mind at the time.))  However, once I got past the beginning, the plot thickened and was full of twists, and the suspense kept me enthralled.  This book contains murder, mystery, romance, restoration, healing, searching, honesty, and finally peace.  

Silence in the Dark is an excellent work of fiction and took me into a country and culture in which I would not feel comfortable traveling but about which I enjoyed reading.  I find it fascinating to read about other cultures and the struggles they endure, and I would rather experience them vicariously through fictional characters than be subjected to fear and danger myself.  Until God calls me to serve him in one of these areas, I will continue to serve him in my home, my church, my school, etc.  

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review. 

Always Watching by Lynette Eason

  Always Watching is the first novel in Eason’s Elite Guardians series, which centers around an agency of mostly-female bodyguards and their clients.  This new romantic suspense novel is fast-paced and thrilling.  I stayed up far too late a few nights in a row because I had trouble putting this book down.  

Olivia Edwards is a former law enforcement officer and the owner of Elite Guardians.  Her agency is hired to protect a radio personality after he receives creepy gifts left on his doorstep and in his mailbox.  Olivia is forced to take a more active role in guarding Wade Savage after his original bodyguard is attacked by his stalker.

Wade and his family are Christians and rely upon God to get them through difficult circumstances even when the situation seems hopeless.  Olivia’s faith didn’t survive the difficulties in her childhood and young adulthood, but she lets down some of her walls as her relationship with Wade develops under extreme pressure.

Eason offers hope for those who have loved and lost and for those who have faltered in their faith because of trials.  Always Watching is a fantastic crime novel, and I’m looking forward to reading the future books in this series.  

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

  
Whew!  What a roller coaster ride that was!  I had so much trouble putting this book down the few nights it took to read it because of the suspense and fast-paced action.  Even after I closed the book and turned off the light, my mind was spinning with the plot twists and characters’ actions.  I haven’t read a book this suspenseful in months.

Lance McGregor is a rookie FBI agent, but he has plenty of experience as a Delta Force operator.  When he receives a call about a possible kidnapping, he jumps at the chance to get away from the old case files on his desk.

Christy Reed, a former champion figure skater, lost her sister two months ago in a house fire, but she just received a letter addressed in her sister’s handwriting from a kidnapper.  She isn’t supposed to involve law enforcement, but she covertly contacts the FBI and puts her trust in agent Lance McGregor.

As the case heats up, the chemistry between Lance and Christy ignites as well.  Lance’s self-control is put to the test as he refuses to mix business and pleasure.  If he doesn’t solve this case quickly, there may not be a chance for pleasure later because this kidnapper has a deadly intent.  

Thin Ice is the second book in Hannon’s Men of Valor series, which focuses on a trio of brothers.  I am planning to read Buried Secrets (the first in the series) and would recommend reading them in order because Mac’s story continues in Thin Ice. This series reminds me somewhat of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series, and I am looking forward to the next installment.  

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts are my own. 

Vendetta by Lisa Harris

  

I used to read every novel in a series of FBI thrillers by a certain author, and I really enjoyed peeking into the lives of FBI agents, even if they were fictional characters.  The suspense and action kept me enthralled while the humor and romance entertained me.  Unfortunately, the author started adding supernatural elements to her plots, and I prefer more realistic fiction.  I had not found anything close to that series until I read Vendetta this week.

Vendetta is the first novel in the Nikki Boyd Files by Lisa Harris.  This fast-paced mystery is filled with action, adventure, suspense, humor, and romance, but the author also addresses grief and a faltering faith in response to the death of a loved one.  While there is some discussion of faith and God, it is not enough to turn off those who are not Christians.  Lisa Harris does not shy away from the tough questions but allows her characters to work through their doubts in their own way.

Nikki Boyd is an agent with the newly-formed Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force.  In Vendetta, Nikki works with state and local authorities to hunt down an abductor before it’s too late.  The race to find the missing person kept me reading late into the night.  This is an exciting mystery, full of plot twists, set in a majestic area.  The characters are likeable and well-developed, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. 

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.