Review of ‘Perfect partners’ by Maggie Cummings.

Sara Wright is an elite police dog trainer fully committed to her job and happy to avoid any relationships with her coworkers. But when trainee Isabel Marquez enters her life with her gorgeous looks and charm, Sara finds very hard to stick to her own set of rules. Will Sara stay away from Isabel or give love a chance?

This is a sweet romance with the intriguing background of a police K-9 division training facility. Ms. Cummings, who is a police officer herself, submerge the reader into this fascinating world. It is interesting to see how officers and dogs train in different tasks for the detection of explosives. The author develops the bond between Isabel and her dog Chase in a realistic and, at the same time, charming way. Chase steals the show with his unconditional love and work discipline. Theirs is such a strong bond that casts a shadow on Sara and Isabel’s chemistry.

Regarding the romance itself, the attraction is ok but nothing off the charts. Their conflict makes sense in the scheme of things but I didn’t feel enough tension as it was solved fast. There is a bit of action at the end, but it felt rushed too.

Overall, a light and sweet romance with the intriguing background of a police K-9 division training facility. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Shadowboxer’ by Jessica L. Webb.

Former boxer Jordan McAddie had a hard childhood and now she’s
dedicated to help street kids by teaching them the discipline of
boxing. With her mentoring duties, a full time job and her social
worker studies, she’s got enough on her plate and the least thing
she needs is her first love walking back into her life. As she
struggles to open up to a possible relationship, the street kids
are being targeted by an extremist group. Can she keep the kids
safe and give love a chance?

Throughout her short but productive career, Ms. Webb has written
action, mystery and psychological thrillers with romance at the
side. While ‘Shadowboxer’ has a mix of these genres, it’s her most
introspective work. There is a criticism of the social services
system and, more specifically, how adults fail to protect their
children and youth. Through boxing, Jordan and the teenagers under
her care learn more than the physical activity of fighting: they
build their self-esteem, learn to trust each other and to boost
their confidence. It’s not a fight against each other but rather a
struggle against their own ghosts, a bit like shadowboxing. No
wonder that, compared to the rest of Webb’s novels, this one feels
oppressive and darker. The author works with the lights and
shadows in the characters’ states of mind as reality throws
punches at them. It’s not an easy read but the heaviness is
balanced by the sweet redemption of romance and friendship.
Regarding the mystery and action scenes, they are short but
effective in keeping the reader hooked in the story. The
characters are well written and even though there are a good
number of secondary characters, they all have depth and feel real.
The romance is slow burn and sweet, both mains complement each
other and send a light of hope to the darker sides of the plot. My
only criticism is that the last couple of chapters seem a bit
rushed. However, this book is definitely worth a read.

Overall, a darker novel by Ms. Webb with a mix of action, mystery,
psychological thriller and romance. Not an easy read but highly
recommended. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Easy Nevada and the pyramid’s curse’ by Georgette Kaplan.

This book is part one of ‘The Cushing-Nevada chronicles’ series which follows the adventures of archaeologist Dr. Candice Cushing and maverick treasure hunter Easy Nevada. They are both interested in digging the secrets of a mysterious pyramid in Sudan: Candice for widening the country’s heritage, Easy for her own materialistic interests. As a group of religious extremists get involved in the hunt, both women become unlikely allies to try to unearth the pyramid’s secrets without dying in the process.

To say that this is an action book is a huge understatement. Wild adventure, crazy non-stop action and characters constantly on the move is a better definition. The author plays with the opposites well: Candice is a mixed race, Sudanese-British archaeologist, alledgedly straight and eager to play by the rules, while Easy is white, American, lesbian, womaniser and daredevil. Both characters’ voices are well developed and distinctive. As scene after scene of dangerous adventures go by, Candice teaches Easy world history while Easy teaches Candice extreme banter and her skills in handling weapons.

“If you were my student, I’d fail you,” Candice muttered to the retreating back. Ahead, the floor had caved, leaving a four-foot gap. Nevada cleared it in one jump. “If you were my professor, I’d sleep with you and get a good grade.” (Chapter 6)

Their chemistry builds up slowly but surely and even though there’s no time for many romantic developments in this book, there’s a promise of more in the next one.

The story is written from different point of views, including the villains, but mainly focuses in both main characters. Although there is a partial resolution of the plot, the whole adventure is not finished and a sequel is scheduled for 2019 called ‘Candice Cushing and the lost tomb of Cleopatra’.

I’ve read the ‘Scissor link’ series by this author but this book is by far her best. Overall, an action packed thriller filled with witty dialogues and great landscape descriptions. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘The last first time’ by Andrea Bramhall.

This is book number three of the Norfolk Coast Investigation Story’s series which I suggest to read in chronological order as some of the plots develop throughout the series. There is a cliffhanger in this one so be warned. The books follow Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon and her girlfriend Gina Temple as Kate solves different crimes and Gina manages to get into trouble along the way. This is a very, very slow-burn romance that advances through the series but each book deals and closes a specific crime.

In the previous books Ms. Bramhall dealt with difficult issues such as drug trafficking and eutanasia. In this book she touches the problem of terrorism and goes beyond its obvious result of life loss and destruction. The author presents some paradoxical consequences of counter terrorism investigations that make the reader wonder about what is ethically acceptable in the fight against terrorism. Can anything be tolerated in the name of justice? Is there any justification for life loss even in the name of a greater good?

I would have given this book a 5+ star rating except for the twist at the end that is hard to believe. Hence, I dropped half a star. However, don’t let this deter you from reading it and the whole series as all the books are seriously good.

A thought provoking mystery with a bit of romance at the side. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Counting to zero’ by AJ Quinn

I’ve read some books by this author and for me they get an average rating of 3 or 4 stars. The book description called my attention so I decided to give it a try.
Paxton James, a genius hacker, is called to join a task force coordinated by NSA agent Dr. Emma Thorpe to combat a series of cyber attacks that threatens national security. Needless is to say that dark, handsome and maverick Paxton gets romantically involved with blonde, beautiful and law-abiding Emma. So far so good.
One issue that I have with this book is that it sometimes turns too unrealistic for my taste. It’s a bit like watching a James Bond movie where the hero dodges any imaginable attack almost unscathed. So be prepared to take your suspension of disbelief to the limits in order to enjoy the story.
The other issue I have is that the romantic involvement between the main characters, Emma (the boss) and Paxton (the alleged subordinate) seems, at the very least, a bit unprofessional. I”m not going to get into detail as I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but let me say that sometimes their behaviour doesn’t seem characteristic of two people who are responsible of defending their nation from an imminent major terrorist attack.
Overall, an ok read. 3.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Trigger’ by Jessica L. Webb.

This is the first book by Jessica Webb which I started to read without big expectations, just interested in the book description. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Webb’s original plot, proficient writing skills and knowledge on how to tell a story.

Even if the story can be categorised as science fiction, the author makes the events plausible and from the start the reader is taken into a plot full of twists which keeps you turning the pages.

The main characters are multifaceted and likable, their slow burn romance a good addition to the thriller. I really liked the way the book has been written from the Doctor’s point of view but in third person. In my opinion, this provides with a sense of mistery and aloofness to the cop character as we don’t know what’s on her mind and the reader only get clues of her feelings by her behaviour or what other characters say. The secondary characters are multilayered and well described which add interest and complement the plot nicely.

Overall, a very good thriller with a little bit of romance story. I’ll definitely read another book from this author. Highly recommended. 5+ stars.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.