Monday, October 28, 2013
Publication Date: December 10, 2013 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
In this riveting follow-up to The Blood Gospel, the first book in their thrilling and atmospheric Order of the Sanguine series, New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell deliver a riveting tale of international adventure, intrigue, suspense, and supernatural mystery involving a modern scientist, a highly secret eternal spiritual order, and a terrifying power who must join forces to bring down a ruthless and cunning enemy and prevent the Apocalypse
While exploring a tomb hidden for centuries in the depths of Masada, Israel, brilliant archaeologist Erin Granger began an incredible journey to recover a miraculous ancient artifact tied to Christ himself. The quest introduced her to a diabolical enemy determined to discover the book and use its powers for his own dark ends. It also led her to an ancient and highly secret Vatican order-known simply as the Saguines. Though she survived, the danger has only just begun . . .
An attack outside Stanford University thrusts Erin back into the fold of the Sanguines. As the threat of Armageddon looms, she must unite with an ancient evil to halt the plans of a man determined to see the world end, a man known only as Iscariot.
With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguine series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell breathtakingly combined science and religion and introduced a world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. In Innocent Blood, they again take us to the edge of destruction . . . and into the deepest reaches of imagination.
I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first book, The Blood Gospel, that I jumped at the opportunity to read the second book in the series, Innocent Blood. I will state up front, that I was not disappointed by the second book. The subject matter is fun and exciting and the writing is just great. I enjoyed the pacing and I don't know if the authors could have put any more tantalizing hints or characters in the book if they tried.
We follow the characters from the first book and get to know them a bit more. The woman that Rhun turned into a Strigoi, Elizabeth, becomes a major character in the story and there is some debate about who is the real Woman of Learning - Erin or Elizabeth. Either way, she becomes an important figure and plays a vital part in the drama. As with each important character, she is complicated and interesting.
I found one particular new character to be especially interesting. Arella, the immortal woman that Judas loves and encounters over the centuries is such a compelling character. I don't want to give too much away, but I really enjoyed this story line.
I have to say that Rollins and Cantrell definitely know how to keep the reader interested all the way to the end of the story. They also have mastered the art of throwing some tantalizing hints at the reader right at the end of the book, so that you are anxious to read the next one. The Order of the Sanguines Series has so much going for it: vampires, Sanguines (holy vampires?), Judas, Rasputin, ancient mysteries, prophecies, and angels (both good and evil). I'm not sure what more a reader could ask for. Innocent Blood, like The Blood Gospel was such fun to read from start to finish. Highly recommend.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Publication date: May 17, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.
I can't believe that I didn't write a review for The Passage before now. I think that right after I read it the first time I was just dumbfounded by the way it ended. I was just so upset. Then I read that there would be another book and I felt much better about the ending. And then I must have gotten sidetracked with other reviews. When I had the chance to read a digital copy of it before The Twelve was published, I jumped at the chance. But by then I thought I had already reviewed it. So this is a bit late, but since I am finally reading The Twelve, I thought I should finally review The Passage.
First of all, I had never encountered vampires like these before. I loved the way they came to be. It just sounds like something that could happen. I thought the writing was very clever. I loved the gradual manner that things were set up with the researchers going off into the jungle and the way the information is given via emails. Then the stories of the final two experimental subjects as they are drawn into the doomed study. There is such good world building and Cronin makes sure that the reader has an understanding of the characters before things start going crazy.
There are so many things about The Passage that I loved. Sometimes it is difficult to explain without giving too much away to those who haven't read it yet. I liked that once the virals were lose, things changed very quickly. The world as we know it ended and the there is an abrupt change to the future where the new world is all they know aside from stories told by the elders. The change is disconcerting, but so fitting. The new world of the lone, small settlement is fully set up and the reader becomes really engaged with their daily struggle for survival. When things start to go very wrong and strange; it sets up another big change which leads up the final action leading to one of my favorite showdowns of all time.
The Postscript is what gets me every time though. That is just not fair. Not fair to the reader at all. But in a perverse way, I also loved it. I can't think of a better cliffhanger, really.
I loved this book so much. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read it. I think it has become my new favorite vampire book.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Colossus:The Four Emperors by David Blixt
Publication date: April 7, 2013 by Sordelet Ink
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:Rome under Nero is a dangerous place. His cruel artistic whims border on madness, and any man who dares rise too high has his wings clipped, with fatal results.
For one family, Nero means either promotion or destruction. While his uncle Vespasian goes off to put down a rebellion in Judea, Titus Flavius Sabinus struggles to walk the perilous line between success and notoriety as he climbs Rome’s ladder. When Nero is impaled on his own artistry, the whole world is thrown into chaos and Sabinus must navigate shifting allegiances and murderous alliances as his family tries to survive the year of the Four Emperors.
Colossus:The Four Emperors by David Blixt sounded like it would be right up my alley. I love Roman history, which I think I have stated before. The book follows Titus Flavius Sabinus and his family as they navigate the dangerous world of Rome under Nero. This is actually the second book in the series, but I thought it stood on its own quite well. I had no problem following the story or characters' lives. I will be reading the first book though and hope to read the entire series.
I I enjoyed the main story line that followed Titis Flavius Sabinus, an honorable but still ambitious man trying to live the life expected of a Roman citizen. This isn't an easy thing to do in the midst of the volatility and madness of Rome towards the end of Nero's reign as emperor. He tries to set an example and hold himself to a certain standard. His loyalty to Rome and his family are steadfast.
There are several story lines and characters to follow and I found some of the characters to be quite compelling. I particularly enjoyed reading about Antonia Caenis, a freed slave and mistress to Vespasian. She is a great example of how certain women were able to wield power and influence . . . behind the scenes, of course.
As with most books taking place in Ancient Rome, there is a lot of violence and women are treated as property. While this is unpleasant, it is factual. Nero's reign is a particularly violent period and the novel reflects this. Apparently, he took the Saturnalia very seriously. Naturally.
I was intrigued by the story line involving Peter's family. I haven't encountered a story like this before and I look forward to reading more about them.
I also look forward to reading more books by David Blixt. I enjoyed his writing very much. If you are interested in historical fiction, Ancient Rome, military or political history, then you might enjoy Colossus: The Four Emperors.
About the AuthorAuthor and playwright David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE’S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.” Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, October 7
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, October 8
Review at Reading the Ages
Interview at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, October 9
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, October 10
Review at Historical Tapestry & The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Friday, October 11
Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Monday, October 14
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, October 15
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Wednesday, October 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover
Thursday, October 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 18
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Monday, October 21
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, October 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 23
Review at Dee’s Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at HF Connection
Thursday, October 24
Review at She Reads Novels
Friday, October 25
Review at A Book Geek
Review & Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Friday, October 18, 2013
Rasputin's Shadow by Raymond Khoury
Publication date: October 8, 2013 by Dutton
Source: Publisher via Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.
Description from Goodreads:
On a cold, bleak day in 1916, all hell breaks loose in a mining pit in the Ural Mountains. Overcome by a strange paranoia, the miners attack one another, savagely and ferociously. Minutes later, two men—a horrified scientist and Grigory Rasputin, trusted confidant of the tsar—hit a detonator, blowing up the mine to conceal all evidence of the carnage.
In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly’s search for Reed Corrigan, the CIA mindcontrol spook who brainwashed Reilly’s son, takes a backseat to a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy attaché seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a fourth-floor window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired physics teacher from Russia and his wife, have gone missing, and further investigation reveals that the former may not be who the FBI believe him to be.
Joined by Russian Federal Security Service agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation of the old man’s identity will uncover a desperate search for a small, mysterious device, with consequences that reach back in time and which, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.
Packed with the twists, intrigue, and excitement that Khoury’s many fans have come to expect, Rasputin’s Shadow will keep readers turning pages long into the night.
Excerpt from RASPUTIN’S SHADOW, by Raymond Khoury
Ural Mountains, Russian Empire
As the high-pitched shriek reverberated against the walls of the copper mine, Maxim Nikolaev felt an unusual pinch deep in his skull.
The big man set down his pickax and wiped his brow just as the painful sensation subsided. He took in a deep breath, flooding his already-infested lungs with more toxic dust. He didn’t even notice or care anymore. Right then the mid-morning break was all he was thinking of, given that his working day had started at five.
As the last echoes of the whistle died out around him and with the army of pickaxes now at rest, Maxim heard the distant sound of the Miass River, out by the mouth of the open mine. It reminded him of when he was a boy, when his uncle often took him swimming at a secluded spot on the outskirts of Ozyorsk, away from the thick, putrid smoke that belched out of the smelting plant twenty-four hours a day.
He remembered the smell of the pine trees, so tall they seemed to touch the sky. He missed the tranquility of the place.
He missed the open sky and the clean air even more.
A voice rang out from farther down the tunnel. “Hey, Mamo, get your ass over here. We’re playing for a go on Pyotr’s daughter.”
Maxim wanted to roll his eyes at Vasily, partly for the diminutive, which he hated, and partly for the man’s general stupidity, but the wiry bastard took offense at the slightest provocation, so Maxim smiled at the group of men instead, hefted his pickax onto a broad, muscle-bound shoulder, and sauntered over to where the three other mudaks were already at their regular seats. He sat down next to the unfortunate Pyotr and set his tool against the wall beside him. Maxim had laid eyes on the man’s daughter only once, and though she was indeed strikingly beautiful, he had no doubt that she could certainly do a lot better than any of the pathetic losers around him toiling deep in the bowels of the earth for a less-than-meager wage.
Maxim fished out a small flask—a punishable offense—and took a long swig, then wiped his mouth with a grimy sleeve. “Let’s play, then,” he told Vasily. He might as well try to win some money from the leering idiot if he could.
Stanislav, the most pathetic of the foursome, went first, followed by Pyotr, then Maxim. Then Vasily’s turn came around. He slammed his fist down onto a just-turned Queen of Hearts, rattling the half-broken wooden table around which the four men sat, then leaned back with a smug smile on his face.
Maxim didn’t flinch. His mind was already drifting away. He felt another odd tingling in his head, like a little tickle really, deep in his brain. For some reason, he thought of how much he hated Ochko. Everyone pretended it was about skill when really luck was all you needed. He much preferred Durak, a game that seemed to be about luck, but was really about skill. He had never once been the last to hold cards in twenty-seven years of playing that game. It was probably why that leech Vasily refused to play the game with him.
Vasily’s croaky voice broke through his curdled thoughts. “Come on, Mamo, deal yourself a card before we all turn to stone.”
Maxim looked down and realized he had turned over his first two cards without even looking at them.
Stanislav turned a Seven of Clubs, unsurprisingly cutting him out of the game after three cards. Pyotr turned a Two of Spades, giving himself nineteen. He looked nervously at Vasily, whose expression didn’t change. The bastard was leading with eighteen. That, and he was a very bad loser. Vasily gestured at Maxim to hurry up and take his turn, presumably so he could turn a Three and win the small pile of coins sitting in the middle of the table.
Maxim really didn’t want to let him win. Not that day. Not there, not then. And as he was about to turn his card, he felt a piercing sensation worm its way through the back of his skull. It didn’t last for more than a breath. He shook his head, shut his eyes, then opened them again. Whatever it was, it had gone.
He peeked at his card, then looked up at Vasily. The wiry creep was leering at him and right then, Maxim knew that the man was cheating. He didn’t know why, but he was dead sure of it.
Not only cheating, but looking at him like—like he hated him. More than hated. Loathed. Despised.
Like he wanted to kill him.
And right then, Maxim realized that he loathed Vasily even more. His veins throbbing angrily against his skull, he managed to turn over his card. He watched as Vasily dropped his eyes to take it in. It was a Five of Diamonds. Maxim was also out. Vasily smirked at him and turned his own card. A Four of Hearts. Too many. He had won.
“That’s us, moi lyubimye,” Vasily said, all smug and reaching out to gather his winnings. “Four hearts, beating as one.”
Maxim’s hand shot out to block Vasily, but just as he did, Stanislav turned away from the table and convulsed before throwing up, spewing the contents of his belly onto the cheat’s boots.
“Fuu! Stanislav, you son of a whore—” Vasily lurched back from the retching man, then a pained look spread across his face and he fell off the wooden crate on which he had been sitting and hit the ground, clutching his head, knocking over the table and sending the cards flying off.
Pyotr shot to his feet too, flaring with indignation. “Four? What four? I didn’t see a four. You filthy cheat.”
Maxim swung his gaze back at Stanislav, whose eyes were bloodshot, as if the force of his retching had blown all the blood vessels in his face, and Maxim knew, knew for sure, that Stanislav had also been cheating. They all had, the swine. They were going to fleece him—then they were going to hurt him.
As if to confirm it, Vasily started to laugh. Not just a laugh, a demonic, deep-rooted laugh that gushed with contempt and mockery and—Maxim was sure of it—hatred.
Maxim stared at him, rooted to the mine’s soil, feeling the sweat seep out of him, unsure of what to do—
He saw Vasily take a step in his direction—he really didn’t look at all well—then the cheat’s eyes went wild and the man stopped in his tracks.
Pyotr had just embedded Maxim’s hack into the side of Vasily’s head.
Maxim lurched back as Vasily hit the ground at his feet, a fountain of blood gushing out of the man’s skull. Then he was aware that the pain in the back of his head was back, sharper than before. An intense fear washed over him. He would be next. He was sure of it.
They were going to kill him unless he killed them first.
He’d never been as sure of anything in his entire life.
Angry yells erupted from other recesses of the mine as he launched himself at Pyotr, blocking his arm while grabbing the hack and fighting the murderous cheat for it. In the dim light of the lone grimy lantern, he glimpsed Stanislav, back on his feet, going for his pickax too. Everything turned into a blur of claws and swings and shouts and punches until Maxim felt something warm in his hands, something he was absolutely compelled to squeeze until his hands met each other in the middle, and when clarity returned to his eyes, he saw poor Pyotr’s eyeless, bloodied face turn a livid purple as he snapped the man’s neck.
All around him, the air was suddenly full of screaming and the sound of steel cleaving through flesh and bone.
Maxim smiled and sucked in a big lungful of air. He had never heard anything so beautiful—then something flashed in the corner of his vision.
He leaned backward as the ax came swinging toward his neck and felt the displaced air blow across his face. He jabbed a fist into his attacker’s ribs, then another. Something crunched. He stepped behind the groaning man, swung an arm around his throat—it was Popov, the shift manager, who had never even raised his voice the whole time that Maxim had worked there—and began to choke him.
Popov dropped to the ground like a sack of beetroot.
Maxim grabbed the ax from the dead man’s hand and immediately buried it in the face of Stanislav, who already had the hack he was holding halfway through an arc toward Maxim’s chest. Maxim tried to duck out of its path, but the hack still connected and gouged a large chunk out of his side.
Stanislav toppled backward and fell to the ground, the ax embedded in his face.
Maxim dropped to his knees, then keeled over, grabbing his torn flesh with both hands, trying to push the two sides of the wound back together.
He lay there, writhing on the ground, pain shooting through him, his hands bathed in his own blood, and glanced down the mineshaft. He could barely make out the dimly lit silhouettes of other mudaks up and down the tunnels, hacking away at one another furiously.
He looked down to the wound in his side. His blood was rippling through his fingers and cascading onto the thick grime of the mine floor. He kept staring at it as the death cries echoed around him and the minutes slipped by, his mind numb, his thoughts adrift in a maelstrom of confusion—then a powerful explosion ripped through the air behind him.
The walls shook, and dust and rock shards rained down on him.
Three other explosions followed, knocking the lanterns off their mounts and plunging the already-dark tunnels of the mine into total darkness.
Everything went deathly silent for a brief moment—then came a cool breeze and an urgent, rushing sound.
A rush that turned into a roar.
Maxim stared into the darkness. He never saw the solid wall of water that plowed into him with the force of an anvil and whisked him away. But in those seconds of consciousness, in those last moments before the water overpowered his lungs and the force of the torrent slammed him against the tunnel wall, Maxim Nikolaev’s final thoughts were of his boyhood and of how peaceful it would be to return to the river of his youth.
Standing by the detonator at the mouth of the tunnel, the man of science listened until all silence returned to the mountain. He was shaking visibly, though not from the cold. His companion, on the other hand, was unnaturally calm and serene. Which made the scientist shake even more.
They had made the long journey together, from the distant isolation of the Siberian monastery to this equally forsaken place. A journey that had started many years ago with the promise of great things, but that had since veered into savage, criminal territory. The man of science couldn’t quite put his finger on how they’d reached this point of no return, how it had all degenerated into mass murder. And as he stared at his companion, he feared there would be more to come.
“What have we done?” he muttered, fearful even as the words snuck past his lips.
His companion turned to face him. For a man of such power and influence, a man who had become an intimate friend and confidant of the tsar and tsarina, he was unusually dressed. An old greasy jacket, tattered around the cuffs. Baggy trousers that hung low at the back like the serouals worn by the Turks. A farmer’s oiled boots. Then there was the wild, tangled beard, and the greasy hair, parted down the middle like that of a tavern waiter. The scientist knew it was all artifice, of course, all part of a calculated look. A craftily honed image for a grand master plan, on in which the man of science had become an enabler and an accomplice. A costume designed to convey the humbleness and humility of a true man of God. An outfit so basic it also couldn’t possibly detract from its wearer’s hypnotic, gray-blue gaze.
The gaze of a demon.
“What have we done?” his companion replied in his odd, simple almost primordial manner of speech. “It’ll tell you what we’ve done, my friend. You and me…we’ve just ensured the salvation of our people.”
As always happened in the other’s company, the man of science felt a numbing weakness overcome him. All he could do was stand there and nod. But as he began to digest what they had just done, a stifling darkness descended upon him and he wondered about what horrors lay ahead, horrors he would have never imagined possible back in that secluded monastery, where he’d first met the mysterious peasant. Where the man had brought him back from the edge, shown him the wonder of his gift, and talked to him about his wanderings among the hidden cloisters deep in the forests and the beliefs he had learned there. Where the mystic with the piercing eyes had first told him about the advent of “true tsar,” a fair ruler, a redeemer of the people born of the common folk. A savior of Holy Rus.
For the briefest moment, the man of science wondered if he’d ever be able to extricate himself from his mentor’s hold and avoid the madness that surely lay ahead. But as quickly as the thought had surfaced, it was gone, snuffed out before it could even begin to take shape.
He’d never seen anyone refuse anything of Grigory Efimovich Rasputin.
And he knew, with crippling certainty, that his will was far from strong enough for him to be the first.
This is an excerpt from Rasputin’s Shadow, by Raymond Khoury (Dutton; October 8, 2013; $27.95 U.S./ $29.95 Can.)
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Publication Date: October 1, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
This comic mystery set in the elite zip codes of Manhattan will leave you breathless . . . literally
What could be more fun for a freelance copy editor than work- ing on a juicy tell-all about one of Manhattan’s most enigmatic society doyennes? But when Miranda “Rannie” Bookman arrives at Ret Sullivan’s tony Upper East Side apartment, she finds more than the final draft of the reclusive author’s manuscript waiting for her—there’s also the half-naked body of Ret herself, tied to her bed and strangled with an Hermès scarf.
Was this merely a case, as the police believe, of rough sex that got a little too rough? Or was Ret murdered because someone wanted to make absolutely sure she didn’t meet her deadline? Once again, Rannie must prove that her mind is just as sharp as her Col-Erase blue pencils—or risk getting rubbed out too.
Almost True Confessions by Jane O'Connor was such a pleasant surprise. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this was just such a fun, fast-paced read! I was first intrigued by the main character, Rannie, a former Simon & Schuster copy editor who, due to an unfortunate mistake, is now a freelance copy editor trying to make ends meet while living in Manhattan and raising her one child still at home. The premise is appealing and funny.
Probably the thing I liked the most about the book was Rannie herself. She is funny, smart and obsessed with words. Who isn't, right? She loves word puzzles of every kind, is constantly correcting other people's grammar and she can't stop trying to figure things out - even when these things put her life in danger.
The cast of characters is great and includes Rannie's ex-husband's mother and her fun and let's say, "interesting" freinds, an ex-cop boyfriend, an art restorer, an heiress, among others. The other characters add color and help with the plot, but Rannie carries the story. She just can't let things go when she knows things just don't add up.
I enjoyed Almost True Confessions so much. I loved following along as Rannie worked through the many contradictory clues, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, solved crosswords and a couple of crimes as well. I mean what self-respecting book worm isn't interested in a book about a copy editor who can solve actual crimes? While this is the second book involving Rannie Bookman, it stands on its own quite well and I will be reading the first book involving Rannie as soon as I can get my hands on it. I will definitely be recommending this one!
Jane’s Tour StopsTuesday, October 1st: guiltless reading
Wednesday, October 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, October 3rd: A Book Geek
Monday, October 7th: As I turn the pages
Tuesday, October 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 9th: Bibliotica
Thursday, October 10th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, October 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, October 15th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, October 16th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Friday, October 18th: Not in Jersey
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Publication date: August 27, 2013 by Harlequin Mira
Source: Publisher via Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
An escape to an idyllic Irish seaside village is about to turn deadly in this riveting new novel by master of romantic suspense Carla Neggers.
For marine biologist Julianne Maroney, two weeks in tiny Declan's Cross on the south Irish coast is a chance to heal her broken heart. She doesn't expect to attract the attention of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan—especially since a Donovan is the reason for her broken heart.
Emma and Colin are in Ireland for their own personal retreat. Colin knows he's a reminder of everything Julianne wants to escape, but something about her trip raises his suspicion. Emma, an art crimes expert, is also on edge. Of all the Irish villages Julianne could choose…why Declan's Cross?
Ten years ago, a thief slipped into a mansion in Declan's Cross. Emma's grandfather, a renowned art detective, investigated, but the art stolen that night has never been recovered and the elusive thief never caught.
From the moment Julianne sets foot on Irish soil, everything goes wrong. The well-connected American diver who invited her to Ireland has disappeared. And now Emma and Colin are in Declan's Cross asking questions.
As a dark conspiracy unfolds amid the breathtaking scenery of Declan's Cross, the race is on to stop a ruthless killer…and the stakes have never been more personal for Emma and Colin.
I hadn't read the previous two books in the Sharpe & Donovan series, but since it takes place in Ireland and sounded like a fun story, I agreed to read and review Declan's Cross by Carla Neggers.
At first it took me a while to figure out the dynamics of the relationships between Julianne Maroney and Colin Donovan and Emma Sharpe. It is obvious that there is quite a lot of back story here and it was a little bit daunting trying to wade through the story while trying to figure out exactly why Colin is so concerned about Julianne's actions. Is she a suspect in something? Why does he care? Why is it any of his business? Eventually, I just stopped trying to guess and just enjoyed the current story. As the book progresses, more of the blanks are filled in and I felt that I had a good grasp of the important information from the previous books.
Once I quit trying to piece together the main characters' history, I was able to enjoy the story and the beautiful desctiptions of Ireland. I really enjoyed reading about tiny Declan's Cross and all the interesting people who live there. As with most small towns, everyone knows pretty much everything about everyone else. It was a nice parallel to Rock Point where Julianne and Colin and the other Donovan brothers are from.
The mystery is regarding an art theft, but this theft may be related to another theft years earlier that the Sharpe Fine Art Recovery had worked but the crime remained unsolved. There are so many mysteries going on - not just the current art theft, or event the previous theft, but the motivations of various residents of Declan's Cross and what exactly their relationships are. There are also strange things and mysteries about Julianne's new friend, Lindsey Hargreaves. It is all very complicated and sometimes a bit confusing, but still fun. I enjoyed all the information about whiskey and farming and the lovely descriptions of the area, houses, farms, everything.
While I think it would be helpful to have read the previous books, I was sufficiently entertained and intrigued by the story and the characters that I really enjoyed Declan's Cross. In fact, I enjoyed the book enough that I will be looking for the previous books so that I can learn more about Emma and Colin and the other Donovan brothers. I am also very curious about Emma's grandfather and Sharpe Fine Art Recovery. I think I would suggest reading at least one of the previous books first, but I can happily recommend Declan's Cross as a very fine mystery with plenty of wonderful descriptions of Ireland.
About the author:
Carla Neggers has been spinning stories ever since she climbed a tree with pad and pen at age eleven. Now she has millions of copies of her books in print in more than 30 countries, and more than two dozen of her books have placed on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. Declan’s Cross is the third novel in her acclaimed Sharpe & Donovan romantic suspense series that launched with Saint’s Gate and Heron’s Cove and has been praised as “a breathtaking reading experience” (Providence Journal), “gripping and suspenseful” (Nashua Telegraph), and “outstanding” (USA Today). Her popular Swift River Valley series debuted with Secrets of the Lost Summer, which spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered rave reviews, including a starred review from Booklist and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Growing up in rural western Massachusetts with three brothers and three sisters, Carla developed an eye for detail and a love of a good story. Her imagination, curiosity and sense of adventure are key to creating the complex relationships, fast-paced plots and deep sense of place in her books.