Review of ‘Unexpected Partners’ by Michelle Larkin.

Dr. Chloe Maddox is a cop turned sex crime profiler who has restarted her career at the Boston Police Department, where Dana Blake works as a detective. One evening, Chloe sees a suspect in the office that triggers lost memories from when she was abducted and left for dead two years prior. Dana immediately recognizes that Chloe has a connection to a previous case and is the only one capable of sending the psychopath to jail. As the suspect is arraigned and released on bail, Dana and Chloe find themselves running away from a serial killer. Can they survive and help each other move on from their previous traumatic experiences?

This book was intense, with crimes that are sexual in nature. However, a lot is implied and thankfully not described in detail. The two main characters endure many ordeals, yet are strong and have great, immediate chemistry. Even though circumstances are not ideal, the budding romance is not too much of a stretch as it’s skillfully written.

The story captures the reader right away and moves along  with several action scenes. I feel there was probably one too many of such scenes, but the book kept my attention all the way to the end. The secondary characters are well done and enjoyable. I also liked that, although the book lacks of a formal epilogue, there was complete closure for all the characters.

For all the animal loving readers, there is a wonderful canine in this one. Unfortunately some of the interactions seemed a bit far fetched and the veterinary medicine felt like it was pulled right from the human medicine side of things. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Taz and especially, the book’s dedication. I agree with Ms Larkin, humans are flawed and dogs love us unconditionally and do lead by example!

This is Ms Larkin’s second published work. I picked this one up after enjoying her debut novel ‘Mercy’ pleased to see law enforcement characters continue to be the main characters in her stories. I will definitely be looking out for her next book.

Overall a solid action, crime-romance. 4 stars

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Review of ‘Payback’ by Charlotte Mills.

Detective Constable Kate Wolfe is sent as a disciplinary measure from London to a small town in Cheshire, England. There she meets Detective Chief Inspector Helen Taylor, a seasoned police officer who left a promising career in London due to personal issues. In a deceptive quiet town, they both have to investigate a series of arson attacks, a murder and a missing person while, at the same time, dealing with their mutual attraction.

Despite its title and cover, ‘Payback’ is a mystery as much as a romance. The prologue starts the thriller part in style, hitting the reader like a bucket of cold water. In the romance department, Kate and Helen’s chemistry takes a bit longer to take shape. At the beginning the author seemed to be telling more than showing their mutual attraction, but once the characters spent more time together in the investigations, their connection felt realistic and their intimate scenes hot.

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the leads are well-rounded and multilayered as well as the secondary ones. Set in England, the story has a definite British feel. The plot is smartly woven to keep the reader turning pages and there’s a massive twist in the end that I didn’t see coming. I understand that the author is woking on a sequel. However, this book’s conflicts are completely solved. If you are a fan of Cari Hunter’s books, you might like this one too. Highly recommended.

Overall, a page-turner thriller and an enjoyable romance for fans of both genres alike. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Lost in paradise’ by Rachel Lacey.

Nicole Morella is a recently divorced New Yorker taking some thinking time in a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. When she meets Fiona Boone, a British artist living in France, they hit it off immediately but their budding attraction is interrupted when the cruise is hijacked. Both women escape in a lifeboat and they will need to fight together for their survival and their chance at love.

Rachel Lacey is a seasoned author of almost twenty romance novels but this is her first LGBT and f/f book. According to the author’s notes, she wrote the first draft in a week which is a big accomplishment because the plot is original and well crafted.

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the story is varied in thrilling moments, romance and drama, all of them well balanced and realistic. Both women face setbacks in their fight for survival and the reader cannot help but cheering for them. The secondary characters are mostly in the background but it makes sense as a big part of the story happens with both women isolated from anyone else. However, when the secondary characters make their appearance, they are well-rounded and believable, specially Nicole’s parents.

There’s a trigger warning of abuse but just narrated by one of the characters in a couple of paragraphs. The sex scenes are well written and realistic and show the characters’ growing intimacy. I think that this book will appeal not only the usual lesfic reader but also to Ms. Lacey’s fans.

Overall, an entertaining book with a well-balanced mix of thrilling scenes, romance and drama. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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