A review of “Above the Bridge” by Deborah Garner

 

Gold Rush fever

When Paige McKenzie goes on assignment with her Manhattan newspaper to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to write a piece about the area she expected to learn a bit about the history and culture of a place that’s about as opposite from the rush of New York as one can get. What she did not expect was to stumble upon a century old legend of hidden gold, old treasure maps and family secrets.

Thinking she will stay for a week or two to get a feel for the place, Paige is welcomed by the locals and settles in. When Jake, a newly transplanted cowboy from nearby Cody catches her eye Paige has a hard time keeping her mind on the assignment at hand. After seeing Jake engaged in a heated conversation with a mysterious stranger in the town square, Paige begins to wonder if there may be some truth to the rumblings of undiscovered gold in the Tetons. As she begins to work with Jake track down clues provided in a century old treasure map, Paige realizes that everyone is not all they claim to be in Jackson Hole and the duo are not the only ones who are looking for the treasure trove. Jake’s family legend is on the line as the pair attempt to discover the location of his ancestor’s stash before their rivals.

Above the Bridge is a great story that defies traditional literary genres. If I were asked to describe this book in one or two words, I would be hard pressed to do it. The people of Jackson Hole provide a welcoming, small- town feel. The scenic area while modern enough, still holds on to the old western feel in the main square. The Blue Sky Café is a staple of the story and a regular meeting place throughout. Resident waitress Maddie knows everyone and their preferences and not much escapes her notice. All of this gives “Above the Bridge” almost a cozy feel and there definitely is a mystery to solve, but there is no body count. The aspect of being in Jackson Hole, the hidden treasure aspect and Paige’s very cool time hop sequences adds a western element to the story as well.  The Paige and Jake dynamic is sweet. Theirs is the surprise romance that sneaks up and steals the show, making an already good story even that much better. All in all, a good clean story that will spark the imagination and leave a smile on your face.  I know for me, it made me research the Jackson Hole area a little further and upon viewing the town square web cam on line today I felt like I already knew the area based off Deborah Garner’s excellent story telling. Here’s hoping Paige McKenzie’s next assignment is as full of intrigue, history and colorful characters as “Above the Bridge”.

 

A review of “Executive: A Thriller” by Leslie Wolfe

 

 

Welcome to the Agency

Alex Hoffman is a talented Information Technology analyst and arguably one of the best in her current field.  Having achieved much in her 29 years, Alex is blindsided when she is suddenly let go at her job without any warning or reason. When she stumbles across a job posting in her search that seems tailor made for her abilities and goal she feels that this could be too good to be true. The online application, while bizarre, piques her interest and when an interview is offered she jumps at the chance to learn more about this enigmatic company. As her employment progresses, Alex learns that she has been chosen to join a small but important entity whose mission is to partner with various companies to integrate and uncover possible corporate subterfuge. Alex’s rookie assignment with the Agency seems simple enough; she must pose as a new executive in a well-established tech and machinery manufacturing company to attempt to uncover the source or recent possible leaks that have led to a drop in the company’s stock.  Once inside the company, it becomes apparent that the problems plaguing Nanotech may be worse than initially anticipated with Alex’s curiosity has placing a target squarely on her back.

Having previously read “The Ghost Pattern” which is book number 4 in the Alex Hoffmann series of thrillers by Leslie Wolfe, I was already acquainted with many of the characters. It was good to rewind and witness Alex’s origins with the team and become more acquainted with the Agency and their work. I loved how the story progresses and we see how influential the Agency is in everything from acquiring Alex to consulting with their sometimes-high profile clients and leading their investigations to their conclusion. Alex’s experiences at Nanotech are downright nightmarish. Reading some of the board room meeting practically gave me anxiety. Having been in a similar work culture in the past, it’s easy to imagine that this sort of stuff happening more often than anyone would like to mention. The fact that Nanotech is a company that specializes in drone production with military contracts also adds in a current element that leaves the reader wondering about the overall safety of this type of technology and what can happen if this knowledge finds its way into the wrong hands.

Executive is a solid story with a great premise and action that will have the reader on the edge of their seat. After having read Executive, I am ready to delve in to the other books Alex Hoffmann series to see what else life in the Agency has in store for her and her team.

 

A review of “Faery Dust (Wildcat Wizard Book 2)” by Al K Line

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of his “A-Team” in exchange for an honest review. 

The Hat is back

Faery Dust continues the story of Arthur “The Hat” Salzman shortly after the close of “Blood Moon”. Arthur just wants to take it easy and try to get some rest, but Vicky has found herself with a rare week free of the husband and kids and is dying to accompany Arthur on her first job as his official “sidekick”. It seems that Vicky’s wishes may become a reality when Arthur is visited by Elion the fallen elf. The job: locate and retrieve the Raeth Naeg – a magical belt fashioned in part from the mythical sword of Beowulf. If Arthur succeeds, he (and Vicky) will be rewarded handsomely. If he fails, he will most likely have one vindictive fallen elf to deal with. The more Arthur delves into his quest, the more he realizes that nobody knows exactly what the Raeth Naeg’s powers are. This mystery only makes the object that more desirable. While getting the Raeth Naeg proves eventful enough with Vicky tagging along, delivering the item to Elion may be harder to do as he is nowhere to be found.  Cerberus, Mikalus and vampire family and Elion’s siblings from the Nolands are also lining up for their shot at the Raeth Naeg and The Hat one way or another.

Poor Arthur has little down time in this follow up to “Blood Moon” and our resident insomniac wizard is stretched to his limits as he undertakes his newest job. With extreme exhaustion bordering on narcolepsy, Arthur really is fortunate to have the women in his life around more than normal in this episode whether he believes it or not. Even with Vicky trying his patience and almost getting them both killed on at least one occasion, she also proves her value when confronted with the vampires. As she shows The Hat, a mom can handle anything. The shifters make a return in an unusual way and, of course, if magical artifacts are involved, Nathan and his Cerberus goons will never be too far behind. I love the literary theme that’s developing with this series, from Tinkerbell’s wand to Beowulf’s sword the artifact that may turn up next is anyone’s guess.

 

A review of “A Vampire’s Tale” by Maya Tyler

Full disclosure, I was provided an advanced copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

An action packed paranormal romance

Marisa Clements is not your average romance novelist. An introvert by choice, she is rarely seen outside of her house; her only companion being her laptop and her vampire romance novels.  With a nonexistent love life, she relies on her vivid imagination as fuel for her craft.  Being a skeptic writing about the paranormal doesn’t make the task easier, but it at least pays the bills. Enter Corgan Halton, the “fictional” lead in her newest vampire yarn. Dark, dashing, tortured, passionate….and standing in Marisa’s apartment. But how can this be? Vampires aren’t real, right?

Corgan’s appearance in Marisa’s apartment wasn’t by chance. He is aware of her vocation and many other aspects of her life. Corgan is tired of the world’s misconceptions of vampires and wants to set the record straight before ending his existence on Earth. By having Marisa tell his tale, Corgan can do just that, but this also places Marisa in a danger that she cannot even begin to fathom. Corgan’s attempts to protect Marisa from harm will require assistance from the wizards and his maker as Marisa finds herself immersed in writing her own story.

As a rule, I am not a big fan of romance novels, basically because I read more than my share of them in high school. I noticed a pattern, a basic formula, and I got to the point where I could read a chapter or two and tell you how the whole sordid ordeal was going to shake out. There was always the spoiled rich aristocratic virgin (a must have), an “enter rogue of some sort here”, an arranged marriage, or kidnap or other forced interactions with said rogue, with the result being her captor capturing her heart, blah blah blah. It truly was enough to send me screaming for the horror genre hills after a few years.

With that being said, I was a bit reluctant to give “A Vampire’s Tale” a try, assuming that I would fall right back into the cookie cutter romance mold and be thoroughly bored.

I was pleasantly surprised.

As I read through, it became more apparent that, “A Vampire’s Tale” was less about the “romance” and more about Corgan’s life and his mission to tell his story to this exceptional human. More of a paranormal or urban action fantasy the story moved quickly; so quickly in fact that I devoured this book in less than a day. The romance was there, but did not resemble the mold that I had come to abhor in years past. Even the intimate scenes were done in such a way that was tasteful and didn’t have me fanning myself and thinking that I accidentally missed an X on the cover.

So, much as Corgan made Marisa believe that true vampires do exist, Maya Tyler has managed to show this jaded romance skeptic that there is still such a thing as a sweet love story. Four well deserved stars. If Ms. Tyler’s other stories are anything like “A Vampire’s Tale” I may become a repeat reader.

A Review of “The Watson Girl: A Gripping Serial Killer Thriller” by Leslie Wolfe

Full Disclosure – I was provided a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review

Sole Survivor – Prime Target

FBI Agent Tess Winett is back in action in this follow up to last year’s “Dawn Girl”. Set shortly after “Dawn Girl”, Tess resumes duty as an FBI agent with a seemingly innocuous task – interviewing a death row inmate prior to his execution. While normally a routine task, Tess get more than she bargains for when the media dubbed “Family Man” tells her that of the 34 family killings he is attributed, possibly the most famous “Watson case” was not his. Tess believes him and with the begrudging assistance of Michowsky and Fradella, sets out to review the case files of a now cold  case to attempt to identify and catch a potentially still active serial killer before he can tie up the one loose end that was left all those years ago.

 

Fifteen years ago, 5-year-old Laura Watson hid in horror as her entire family was murdered by a serial killer known as “The Family Man”.  Dubbed “The Watson Girl” by the media Laura was taken in by the Welshes, her family’s longtime friends and deceased father’s business partner. Having survived her ordeal, Laura is poised to become an engineer and join her adopted father in running the family business.  When she is contacted by a psychologist to undergo ‘regression therapy’ to try to uncover details that her brain blocked from that tragic night Laura unknowingly sets herself on a path that will place her face to face with her family’s true killer.

 

I find it only fair you warn you that you should not begin this book if you have somewhere to be because you will immediately get sucked into the story and be hard pressed to pause.  Set in sunny South Florida, Wolfe weaves a brilliantly crafted story that is not only believable but also downright scary. Agent Winnett continues to battle her inner demons from issues that stem from her unresolved PTSD to departmental issues that threaten her position on the force. Palm Beach Detective Michowsky and Fradella make a return appearance as her support team. Tess’ interactions with Garza inside Raiford prison added a hint of “Silence of the Lambs” element to the story. I think the best parts of the story was the unsub’s “Reflections”. These portions really upped the creep factor for me as we see just how unhinged the killer truly is.

The Watson Girl is probably one of the best crime thriller novels I have read to date. I am looking forward to reading more about Agent Winnett as I’m sure her story is far from over.