Friday, June 5, 2020

A Shepherd Suspense Novel, #2: Cross Shadow by Andrew Huff

Book description:

All journalist Christine Lewis wants is the truth. All pastor John Cross wants is to avoid it.

Former CIA agent turned evangelical pastor John Cross is busy caring for the small community of believers he ministers to in Virginia. Journalist Christine Lewis is busy with the demand for her talents from top news agencies in New York City. Neither has any time left for their relationship, which began eight months before when they paired up to prevent the detonation of a chemical bomb in the nation's capital.

But when Christine hears that her stepbrother has been arrested for murder in Texas, they team up again to discover the truth about the crime. Untangling a web of conspiracy, the couple finds themselves in the center of another dangerous situation-and in trouble far deeper than they expected.

With an assassin on the loose, a trusted colleague acting as a double agent, and unreliable artificial intelligence connected to mercenaries who have Cross on their hit list, these two may not get out of the Lone Star State alive.

My review:

  Cross Shadow is one of the books I have been most looking forward to in 2020. Huff's first book in this series - and his first book ever - released in November. This second book in the trilogy was released on my birthday, something I worked out with the author. (Just kidding!)

  The Christian fiction market tends to be a women's market, so it is great to have male authors putting out quality suspense like this, and they are too few.

  This second book in the Shepherd Suspense series was just as great as the first was. I hate to over-use the word awesome, but John Cross is such an awesome character: former CIA agent turned pastor. Side note: I find myself envying his spirituality, which is crazy since he is fictional.

  The description of Cross Shadow sounds a bit tame, but the book has a lot of action and suspense in it. There are a couple of high speed chases, and Huff did an excellent job of describing everything going on in the chases. I could easily visualize it in my mind, and it rivaled some of the high speed chases I have seen in movies.

 The plot was a good one, and there were some things that happened that I did not see coming. I was a little disappointed about the romantic angle - I won't give spoilers away, and that may change in the third book, which cannot come out any time soon!

 Cross Shadow is as much of a thrilling ride of suspense and action as A Cross to Kill. Huff is setting a standard of Christian suspense which is a standard others should strive for. Definitely five stars out of 5.

 By the way, the first chapter of the third and last book, Right Cross, is that the end of this book. And yes, I made the mistake of reading it. Can't wait to read the rest of the book.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Huff spent ten years in local church ministry as a youth pastor and creative arts pastor before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the product director at Igniter Media, a church media company (ignitermedia.com).

He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014, 2017) and also won the best screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA. A Cross to Kill and Cross Shadow in the Shepherd Suspense series are his first releases.

Huff holds a bachelor of science in religion degree from Liberty University and a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in Plano, TX, with his beautiful wife, Jae, and their two boys.

Learn more Andrew Huff and the Shepherd Suspense novels at www.andrewhuffbooks.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@huffwrites), Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff) and Instagram (@andyhuff).


What others are saying:

“In the tradition of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, Cross Shadow is a strong, taut thriller that retains a Christian sense of optimism and hope while acknowledging the existence of great evil in the world. Huff raises the stakes on every page all the way through the white-knuckle finale—like watching an action movie through the written word.”

~ Kyle Mann, editor in chief of The Babylon Bee and author of How to Be a Perfect Christian

“Andrew Huff’s writing is as fast-paced and tight as his enticing story lines. Masterfully balancing a well-developed plot with a cast of characters you feel like you’ve known forever, Huff creates one page-turner after another in his Shepherd Suspense trilogy. He may be a new author, but his talented word-spinning is anything but novice and will linger long in the reader’s subconscious.”

~ Betsy St. Amant Haddox, author of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes


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Friday, May 22, 2020

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Book description:

Get ready for a heaping helping of humor, romance, and second chances

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanagh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show, To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel's other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum and is sent packing, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public's good graces is to work alongside Hadley. As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love.

In the meantime, hide the knives.

My review:

  This isn't the type of book I usually review, but it grabbed my attention since it sounded like it was an amusing read. I wasn't at all familiar with the author, but I decided to review it anyway..... and I am glad I did.

  Hadley Beckett's Next Dish isn't an overtly Christian novel, but that is OK. It is a clean book with Christian themes. And the book is definitely amusing. Throw two very different chefs in the kitchen together and hilarity definitely ensues.

 Hadley and Max are both great and likable characters.....well, Max isn't likable at the beginning of the book. The only thing that did kind of bother me about the book was Max's transformation from a jerk with a temper who drank too much into a very likable and decent guy abstaining from drinking, bad temper, and cursing...for the most part. Hadley was a Christian, but I would like to have seen Max's change come from Christ, not from a rehab center. And yes, these kind of books can be predictable with boy meets girl, one is not a Christian, but there is a conversion and they live happily ever after. Slight spoiler: if Max became a Christian, there is no mention of it in the book. It was still cool to see a the change in him throughout the book.

 That aside, it was a truly entertaining read. I found myself laughing out loud more than once as these two very different personalities clashed, and Max spent more time apologizing than cooking. It was also interesting to watch as they went from barely tolerating each other, to becoming the most important person in each other's lives.

 On the serious side, were themes of forgiveness, trust, and the lesson that fear can hold us back from happiness and fulfilling lives.

 I loved the climatic moment of the book, along with the "6 years later" part at the end. I definitely recommend the book.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she's chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.


Hadley Beckett's Next Dish is available from Revell Publishing.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Standoff, Natchez Trace Park Rangers #1 by Patricia Bradley

Book description:

The Natchez Trace National Parkway stretches 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez, the oldest town on the Mississippi River. It's the perfect road for a relaxed pleasure drive. Unfortunately for Luke Fereday, it's also perfect for moving drugs.

Sent to Natchez to infiltrate the organization at the center of the drug ring, Luke arrives too late to a stakeout and discovers the body of his friend, park ranger John Danvers. John's daughter Brooke is determined to investigate her father's murder but soon finds herself the target of a killer who will do anything to silence her.

Luke will have his hands full keeping her safe. But who's going to keep him safe when he realizes he's falling--hard--for the daughter of the man he failed to save?

My review:

 I always hate to see a series end by an author I like, and the last series by Bradley was quite awesome. Now she is starting a new series, which made me happy.

 Bradley has never written anything that disappointed me, so it is no surprise to me that I thoroughly enjoyed this great start to a new series. I was barely a few pages into the book, and two murders had already been committed, so I knew it was going to be an exciting read.

 I enjoyed the setting for the book. By the way, Natchez is not a fictional town. I googled it, and it sounds like the town described in the book.

 I loved the main characters, especially Luke. Undercover work intrigues me a lot, so he was an even more likable character since that was his role in the story.

 And there was a lot of action and suspense. This was a book where you don't know what is going to happen next, nor who the bad guys all are. There was one I was suspicious of, and was correct. (Score!)

 There was of course the obligatory romance, but this was one where the the couple had known each other for years, and had had feelings for each other for a long time. (Sometimes the boy meets girl while someone is trying to murder them as they fall in love can be a bit unbelievable...but then I am a bachelor) :)

  Standoff is a great start to what promises to be another awesome series from this author. It left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to however many books are in this series.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author: 


Patricia Bradley is the author of Justice Delayed, Justice Buried, Justice Betrayed, and Justice Delivered, as well as the Logan Point series. Bradley won an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award in Romantic Suspense, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and a Touched by Love Award, and she was a Carol Award finalist. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.


Standoff is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Lost Lieutenant (Serendipity & Secrets #1) by Erica Vetsch

Book description: 

He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well? Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

My review:

  The cover of this book didn't do much for me - at least the guy on the cover, nor did it seem like a book I would normally read: regency. And then there is the fact I wasn't familiar with the author. However, it did sound good, and the description made it sound suspenseful.

 Once I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down. Yes, it is regency. It has nobility with all of its rules and proper ways to talk and act, but it was an awesome read. It had enough suspense to pull me in and keep me reading, even thought it isn't what I'd call a suspense novel.

 I loved the two main characters, Diana and Evan. Thrown together in a marriage ordered by royalty, each carrying secrets, and each determined to do the right thing. I thoroughly enjoyed their back and forth and progressing relationship, along with the descriptions of what was expected of nobility.

 The book had a great plot and settings, and the author made even the restoration and repairs interesting that were needed on their new residence. I found the whole book quite interesting and entertaining, and it is one that I read in one setting. With breaks, of course.

 And it had a great ending. I enjoyed the book enough that I am already eyeing book two that is due out in July. Even though this isn't a book that falls into my usual reading genre', it was definitely worth reading, and is one I recommend.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:



Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Twitter (@EricaVetsch)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).



Giveaway:



Go here to enter: http://www.audrajennings.com/2020/04/the-lost-lieutenant-by-erica-vetsch.html




Read an excerpt here: https://www.kregel.com/books/pdfs/excerpts/9780825446177.pdf

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Montana Marshalls



I don't know that I ever reviewed a whole series of books at one time before, but there is a first time for everything.

 My actual review will be after this part:

  Susan May Warren is not an author I have read many books by. There are two reasons: A lot of her books have been just romance, which I steered away from for several years. The other reason: About 9 years ago, I read a book by her and was bothered by the use of a couple curse words in her Christian book. I sent her a polite email, and she defended it, saying "that is what that character would have said." I wasn't impressed, and quit reading her stuff.

 Somehow, I ended up on her email list and had been getting emails about this series each time a new book released. They sounded really good, but I hadn't seriously thought about reading them. Back in February, I was on my trip to Amish Country, Ohio. As part of the package deal I had got at the motel I stayed at, I had coupons for free things in the area: loaf of bread one place, a bottle of BBQ sauce another, cheese, etc. One coupon was 20% off a purchase at the small Christian bookstore in Sugarcreek, OH. They had this series of books, so I bought the first two. After I got home, I ordered the next two. After reading the first one, I ordered the 5th and last one.

My review:

  I don't need a book to be blatantly Christian to enjoy it. I like the absence of cursing, and the message of Christian books. As I read Knox, I wasn't sure it WAS Christian. There was a lot of beer drinking going on, and not much to indicate it was Christian. But it was good. Really good. So I kept on reading, and the books did become more Christian in content,  and less beer drinking. :)

  The Montana Marshalls are about a family of 6 siblings: Reuben, Knox, Tate, Ford, Wyatt, and Ruby Jane. For some reason, the oldest one, Reuben, did not get his own book. There is a lot to like about this series, and one things was that the characters are all in all 5 books, and the author set up the next story a book or two ahead.

 The books have a lot: suspense, assassins, special ops, CIA, and more. They go from rural Montana to Seattle, to Russia. They have country music concerts, covert ops, bombers,  family, fights,  and a lot of surprises along the way. I don't think I could have liked the series and characters more. This is a totally awesome series, and the author outdid herself. And no cursing :)

  I had two favorite characters: Wyatt Marshall, the hockey player, who goes to Russia to save the woman he has loved since he was a teenager, and comes back with more than he went for. (I am not going to say what...read the series!)  There is a really moving scene in there regarding him and his deceased father's Bible. My favorite character came on the scene in the 3rd book, Ford. York is the son of former missionaries who were killed when he was a kid. He was a Marine, CIA agent, and has killed a lot of people...all as part of his job. Slight spoiler here: He didn't consider himself a good guy, but ends up as the love interest of the only female sibling. The 5th book, Ruby Jane, ends up being as much his story as hers. As the author put it at the end of the book, for a man like him to realize it was possible for him to be saved, he had to forget his past...so he loses his memory in the last book, and it becomes the most Christian/spiritual of all five, and is the best of this awesome series. I highly recommend it, and it has caused me to buy her Montana Rescue Series, with the exception of #6. I was trying to get bargains, and not having any luck with it :)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Silent Shadows, Harbored Secrets #3 by Natalie Walters

Book description:

They're running from their pasts into an unknown future.
But first, they'll have to survive the present.

Nurse Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolves into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally--her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton's involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer--and more deadly--than they realized.

Welcome back to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name--but no one knows your secret.

My review:

 This is the 3rd and final book in this series, the first books by this author. The first book was a great debut novel, heading up a great debut trilogy.

  Silent Shadows is a book I have been eagerly looking forward to, after reading the other  two books in the series. The book is set in the same town as the others, and has a lot of the same characters as the other two. One new addition is Colton Crawford, a very likable and flawed character.

 Not only was the who kept a mystery throughout the book, but also the why. When those are revealed, it was a big surprise as to the identity of the bad guy, but also what he wanted. I did not see that coming at all. Kudos to the author.

 There was a lot of the suspense I like in books, accompanied by the expected romance. I loved the setting of the Home for Heroes, and the idea of it, along with the colorful characters that resided there.

   In addition to the suspense and romance, Silent Shadows is also very inspiring and encouraging. There is seven year old Maceo, with a prosthetic leg who manages to overcome that handicap. As much as I hate football, there was am moment where I found my eyes watering. No spoilers :)

 And the big takeaway of  the book was Colton's experience. Slight spoiler: because of his disorder, he ended up in a town meeting people he would never have met (think romance...), and came up with a plan for his life that he never would have if it were not for his disorder. This is a review, so I won't go into what all I got out of that......but it was a great message to put in a suspense novel.

 I loved the ending, and the author tied up the whole series quite satisfactory. She has proven in this trilogy that she has earned a place among the other great suspense authors who are at the top of the market. I am looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.



I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.


 Silent Shadows is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to Revell for the review copy.


                                                                       Book #1



Book #2


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Kings Falling, The Book of Wars #2 by Ronie Kendig

Book description:

As the Race for the Book of the Wars Escalates
the World Teeters on the Brink

Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable warriors who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.

The more Reaper tries to stop the prophesied warriors, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart.

My review:

  I have loved this author's books from the first one I read and reviewed eleven years ago. She just keeps getting better with each book and series, and I am always amazed at the plots and ideas she comes up with.

 This is the second book in The Book of Wars series, and it kept me on the edge of my seat as much as the previous one did. As with her other series she has written, she has come up with a unique and colorful cast of characters that are back in this book......something I really like about her books, as you get attached to the characters and they stay throughout the series. Most of them at least.

  Kings Falling seemed to have even more action and suspenseful moments than Storm Rising. There is a lot more at stake in this book, and there were more than a few surprises I didn't see coming. Among all the action and fighting, the author gives time to relationships, and I even enjoyed that part of the story.

  To write three books about a book that doesn't exist and all that comes with it must take a great imagination and ingenuity. As I read, I did truly find myself marveling at the amazing and complicated plot the author was spinning. But that doesn't mean it is hard to read. Far from it.

 I am not one that is bothered if Christian fiction isn't blatantly Christian...and this book is not. If any of the main characters are Christians, I don't remember picking up on that...but Kendig is proof that an author can write a fast-paced novel that is so awesome and you don't want to put down, yet avoid cursing and smut. Some of her characters may curse, but it is just stated, not spelled out. And I appreciate it that an author like her writes the kind of fiction that I can loan to my nieces, nephews, or someone at church.

 Kings Falling is a masterpiece of political intrigue, special ops, and suspense. I loved everything about it, though it does have a cliffhanger ending that has me wanting to read the last book coming in November.

 I highly recommend Kings Falling, but the books should be read in order.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author:

Ronie Kendig (www.roniekendig.com) is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 20 novels.
She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her hunky hero are adventuring on the East Coast with their grown children, a retired military working dog, VVolt N629, and Benning the Stealth Golden. Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels with intense, raw characters.

Kings Falling is available from Bethany House Publishers.



Book #1



Book #3 (coming November 2020)