Monday, March 23, 2015


When a young girl’s body is discovered in a shallow grave on a farm outside of Ripley, Ohio, FBI Agent Kendal McNally returns to her estranged hometown to investigate. The similarities to another murder on the same farm seventeen years earlier is unnerving, not to mention the fact that she helped put her best friend’s father behind bars for the crime. Her search for the truth puts her in the middle of a serial killer’s graveyard.

Reed Harvey’s life was turned upside down when his father was convicted of murder. It didn’t help that Kendal had been the key witness in the trial or that she turned her back on him and their friendship. Now she has returned to investigate another murder, living in an apartment above his restaurant and making him remember what almost was.

Despite their pasts, Kendal and Reed turn to each other as Kendal’s investigation unravels a web of lies in a town where everyone thought they knew everyone’s business. And when another girl goes missing, Kendal will unearth a devastating secret that may put an end to the murders—except one. 


Available at:  All Romance eBooks 


RATING:  5 Stars

If you enjoy romantic suspense, are interested in how behavioral analysis works into murder investigation, and/or simply like an intriguing murder mystery, I can definitely recommend ‘Shallow Graves’, because it blends all of these together tightly and skillfully.

Kendal McNally, an investigator and behavioral analyst for the FBI, reluctantly returns to her small hometown in Ohio, when the murder of a small girl is discovered, with circumstances very similar to another murder that occurred seventeen years earlier. The much younger Kendal provided the testimony that sent the father of her good friend Reed Harvey to prison for that murder.  It didn’t just ruin their friendship, it destroyed Kendal’s young life, and in the end, sent her away from her home.  Now, for the first time, she’s back, and as the case she’s investigating turns out to be the work of a serial killer, Reed and Kendal find themselves growing close again.

Wolfer builds this mystery very carefully, and with considerable skill.  The possibilities, and the fear, keep growing.  Could it be a copycat killer?  If not, although Kendal was honest, could she have sent the wrong man to prison?  How many more victims will be found? Adding to the ever-building tension are questions about the suicide of Kendal’s mother, and the obstructive behavior of the local chief of police – who happens to be Kendal’s estranged father.  With every chapter, the atmosphere intensifies, and as a reader, I found myself not only trying to figure out who the killer was, but hoping I was right about who the killer wasn’t.  And yet, through all of this, the ties between Kendal and Reed pull them closer all the time, both emotionally and sexually, in ways that add to the plot rather than distract you from it.

I have been a devoted fan of romantic suspense/murder mysteries for decades, ever since I first started reading what were then called Gothic Romances, by such gifted authors as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.  These books were a few steps above most romantic mysteries; as much attention was given to the murder(s), the suspense, and the settings, as to the characters, the romance and whatever sex was included.  The tension kept building from the first chapter on, giving the readers a unique feeling of excitement.  Well, ‘Shallow Graves’ achieved all of that, and I definitely felt that excitement.  This book is well worth 5 stars; actually, I wish I could award it 5.5!

I am very grateful for the reviewer’s copy I was sent.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

REVIEW: Dianne's Destiny by Winona Bennett Cross

Dianne's Destiny - Click Image to Close When Dianne Jacobson returns to her home town of Wichita Falls, Texas after a fifteen year absence, she hopes to find peace while recovering from panic and anxiety brought on by a mugging in New York City.  The last person she expects to see is her first love, Kip Mahan–the man she left without explanation more than a decade ago.

Kip Mahan never expected the woman he couldn't forget to walk into his life at the Equestrian Therapy Center. He doesn’t know why she left him, or why she’s back now with a haunted look in her eyes.

Slowly, the two find their way to the love lost years ago. But when Dianne’s ex-husband tracks her down, it puts not only their newfound love but their very lives in danger. Will Dianne’s destiny slip from her grasp before she’s even found it?

Available at:  Wild Rose Press


RATING:  4.5 Stars
Dianne Jacobson grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, suffering a lot of bullying from other kids because her father was in prison.  But her mother was strong, and built a solid home for her daughter, and Dianne found a wonderful friend in Kip Mahan, a boy from a much more socially acceptable family.  Then, Dianne’s mother died of cancer, Dianne was thinking that Kip deserved a better mate, and when she was offered a college scholarship to a different university than the one Kip was going to attend, she took it.  Without really explaining anything to Kip, she simply left Texas.
Now, fifteen years later, after building a career in New York and marrying a wealthy and influential attorney, Dianne runs home to Texas.  She had been viciously mugged, and was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.  Her therapist recommends that she try equestrian therapy, so she goes to the Horses of Hope Ranch, only to find that Kip, now the owner of a horse ranch, is also in charge of the therapy horses.
All this is just the opening of this intriguing love story.  From there, readers will find themselves wondering if Dianne will be able to aptly apologize to Kip so they could get back together – but what about her husband, who turns out to be an arrogant ass who refuses to accept a divorce, and wants to force her to return to him?   And then there’s the ugly scrimshaw doll Dianne felt compelled to buy at an estate sale – just exactly does the doll have to do with any of this?
A lot happens in this story.  Dianne is desperate to recover from the after-effects of being mugged, there is still a lot of chemistry between Dianne and Kip, and then Simon,  her scoundrel of an ex-husband, shows up, willing do just about anything to get her back.  Dianne’s best friend Jocelyn comes to visit, and tries to guard and help Dianne.  And then there’s Rosa, the scrimshaw doll with the rose painted on its torso; could it be cursed?  It’s hard to put the book down for any length of time, because there is so much going on, and the characters are all so interesting, everything pulling you into Wichita Falls, hoping for a happy conclusion.
I really enjoyed this book.  It was skillfully written, tightly put together, and inhabited by carefully constructed characters.  Romance and intrigue blended with character development and the beautiful use of horses and equestrian therapy.  I rate ‘Dianne’s Destiny’ worth 4.5 stars, and am grateful for the reviewer’s copy I received.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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Eve Ellery has been in love with her best friend for years, but an old wound keeps her from telling him how she feels. Certain she's been forever relegated to being the fat friend and naïve girl he has to protect, she jumps on a job offer three hours away. When her mother's illness worsens, Jake's there to help her, but is it just his white-knight act?

Jake Gardner has been fighting his growing attraction to his life-long friend tooth and nail. The last time he tried to bridge that gap, she cut off their friendship. He decided he'd rather have her in his life as a friend then not at all. Lately, the feelings are harder to ignore, but when she says she has a job offer that can help her out of a tight spot, he knows he has to let her go if he really loves her.

A drunken night leaves both of them thinking it's over for good.
Will Jake and Eve’s bold resolutions bring them closer together or farther apart?

Available at Amazon


RATING:  4 Stars

‘Eve’s New Year’ is a short, nicely written love story, involving two characters, Eve Ellery and Jake Gardner, who started a relationship in high school that they both called ‘friendship’ – because that’s what each of them thought the other one wanted.  Eve was one of the unpopular girls in Lake Point high school, and is convinced that the only reason Jake pays any attention to her was that he felt sorry for her.  But Jake no longer sees her as a shy, lonely girl who needs protection; he just believes that friendly protection is all this attractive woman will accept from him.

On top of her unpopularity, Eve had a lot of other struggles in Lake Point, mostly because her father abandoned her and her mother when she was still in high school, but she still managed to get her college degree.  His father has retired, so Jake has taken over the family business, and Eve is now his assistant in the store. She’s very good at her job, and with her help, Jake has kept the business running quite well. Then Eve gets a very tempting job offer that would require her to move several hours away, but it would pay considerably more, helping both Eve and her mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home.  Jake is torn; he wants Eve to stay, but he still believes she only wants him as a friend, he can’t pay her any more, and so the new job could help her. Things continue to tangle up, especially when Eve’s mother’s ex-lover comes back into the picture.  So, will Eve leave Jake to take the new job?  Will they lose any chance of getting together, or will these two long-time ‘friends’ finally get past the fake wall they built between themselves?

Sarah Cass did a good job putting all this together, especially in her careful characterization of Jake and Eve, blended in with other small town events and relationships, making this an enjoyable story.  Although certain elements are predictable, what the characters do to cope are pleasantly appealing – and, in some ways, still surprising.  All told, this is a believable, interesting romance, with likeable characters and very nice settings.  I would have liked to see more of Eve with her mother, and learn more about her experiences getting her college degree, but it was still a fun book to read.  So, I give ‘Eve’s New Year’ 4 stars.

I am very grateful for the reviewer’s copy I was given.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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