A J.B. Collins Novel series / by Joel C. Rosenberg. 12.6.2017

The Third Target / by Joel C. Rosenberg. (A J.B. Collins Novel)

Tyndale House     ISBN 9781414336282

The First Hostage / by Joel C. Rosenberg. (A J.B. Collins Novel)

Tyndale House     ISBN 9781496423283

Without Warning / by Joel C. Rosenberg. (A J.B. Collins Novel)

Tyndale House     ISBN 9781496406200

Adult Rating: 4

Joel C. Rosenberg holds the reader captive as the story of J.B. Collins, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, unfolds. His storytelling builds anticipation and suspense, all while delivering the clear messages of salvation through faith, true sacrifice, and redemption.

The reader is first introduced to J.B. Collins in The Third Target. J.B. doesn’t make time for anything else but his stories and the truth until he interviews Abu Khalif, the head of the Muslim terrorist group ISIS. During the interview, J.B.’s suspicions are confirmed:  ISIS has possession of chemical weapons and they intend to use them. After Khalif’s escape from prison, J.B. wants nothing more than to warn the world of the dangers that are sure to come, but now his own life is in danger. Will he disobey the orders of the U.S. government? With the President of the United States about to oversee a peace agreement days from being signed by both Israel and Palestine, there is no time to lose.

The First Hostage picks up where The Third Target ends. Abu Khalif and ISIS will do whatever it takes to establish the global reign of their Islamic messiah, even kidnap the President of the United States and demand the allegiance of the entire nation to the radical Islamic Sharia law. J.B. joins the multinationally-led hunt for the president before time runs out. In so doing, he and his family become targets of the jihadist.

In Without Warning, J.B. realizes that despite his best efforts thousands of lives are lost or put in harm’s way, including those of his family and friends. He joins a classified Mossad Israeli team to find and eliminate Abu Khalif and put an end to the terrorist reign. The independent correspondent has never thought of sacrifice, death, or what happens after, but as he draws closer to eliminating Abu Khalif, J.B. begins to question whether or not he is ready for the end of this life and what sacrifices it will take to save the lives of those he loves.

Rosenberg’s knowledge of current political and geographical regions melds seamlessly with his fictional creations. Although one may question J.B. Collins’ unexpected ability to fight alongside elite trained soldiers from multiple countries, it is quickly set aside for the fast-paced plot and detailed vivid action. The series is recommended with caution, as there are many deaths that take place, from both chemical and military grade weapons. The descriptions, though not in depth, do describe the events in such a way a picture is painted in the mind of the reader.

Cicely K. Ben, CLJ

 

The Raven /by Mike Nappa. (Coffey & Hill, 2) 11.30.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800726454

Adult Rating: 4

Coffey and Hill are back at it again in the second of the Coffey & Hill series, The Raven. Although divorced, Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill still share an amount of love and attraction between them which gives a type of sweetness to the story. That sweetness helps to balance out the violence to some extent.

The Raven is a magician–no, change that to master of deception, but really just a young man trying to make his mark on the world who is crazy about Trudi Coffey. His life seems harmless enough until he pickpockets the wallet of an important councilman, and, finding compromising information, decides to blackmail him. What ensues does not look good for this boy wonder and his appendages. He finds himself mired in a plot called Nevermore with the Eastern European mafia with no way out except for an old woman who calls herself Mama Bliss and the help of Coffey and Hill.

Mike Nappa’s The Raven is not a cozy mystery. As mentioned before, the book contains a serious amount of violence (though not gratuitous). There is a Christian worldview with some sharing of Scripture. Recommended for mystery buffs and those that enjoyed the first in the series.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

Dark Deception / by Nancy Mehl. (Defenders of Justice, 2) 11.24.2017

Bethany House ISBN 9780764217784

Adult Rating: 4

Nancy Mehl continues her new romantic suspense series featuring US marshals.

In Dark Deception, Kate O’Brien lives in witness protection in a small Arkansas town. Four years earlier, the O’Brien sisters were attacked by a serial killer, but only Kate survived.

However, Kate’s new life is not as safe as she thinks, especially when new evidence arises that might lead to a convicted man’s freedom. Kate is required to testify in a new trial, putting her life at risk. She agrees to return to St. Louis if the original deputy marshal who protected her during the first trial, US Deputy Marshall Tony DeLuca, will again provide protection. Both of them are unaware that she is being stalked by a killer, putting their lives in danger. Will they make it there alive? Is it the serial killer or is there a copycat killer at the center of the danger?

Mehl has written a plot-driven novel with a strong female character and an honorable male character. The faith element is evident but not heavy-handed. Readers will encounter good and bad cops, serial killers, obsessions, and fractured lives. The violence is appropriate for the story. The plot twists, especially concerning the identity of the mastermind behind Kate’s stalker, will keep the reader turning the pages until the book’s conclusion. All the loose ends are not tied up neatly at the end, leaving the reader wondering what will happen in the next book in this series.

Recommended for public and high school libraries. Fans of DiAnn Mills, Irene Hannon, and Dani Pettrey will appreciate this series.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Earlier Series Title Reviewed by CLJ: Fatal Frost (Jan/Feb/Mar 2017).

When Tides Turn / by Sarah Sundin. (Waves of Freedom, 3) 11.23.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800723446

Adult (YA) Rating: 5

In When Tides Turn, Quintessa Beaumont tires of being known for her beauty and fun personality, desiring instead to be useful. She dumps her “princess” name for “Tess” and joins the Navy’s WAVES, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. In so doing, she will be useful–and she can finally give up the idea of a relationship with Dan Avery, since WAVES are not allowed to marry Navy men under any circumstances, not that Dan is interested in her. In addition to new duties, Tess notices something mysterious going on with her friend Yvette and determines to find out what it is.

Though he would prefer to be at sea, Dan Avery is stuck in Boston doing a desk job. Dan continually tries to focus on his naval career advancement and getting back out to sea, but thoughts of Tess tend to distract him. When he gets a chance to serve at sea again, he takes it, happy to serve under his mentor, Admiral Howard. He learns some hard lessons from the Admiral that change the way he thinks when he returns to Boston. When the Navy lifts the restriction against dating WAVES, Dan wonders if Tess could possibly ever be interested in a bore like him.

Once again, Sarah Sundin combines an intriguing mystery with a budding romance and a splash of character transformation to create another compelling WWII-era novel. The war weighs heavily on the characters, lending a serious tenor to the story. Tess and Dan undergo some serious transformation and soul-searching throughout the book. Moments when Tess, Dan, and their friends are together lighten the mood, and also provide insights into America during the 40’s. All too quickly this story concludes, wrapping up the Waves of Freedom series.

Kristina Wolcott, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJThrough Waters Deep (Nov/Dec 2015); Anchor in the Storm (Oct/Nov/Dec 2016).

The Mistress of Tall Acre: A Novel / by Laura Frantz. 11.17.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800720445

Adult Rating: 4

The American Revolution has finally ended, but for 28 -year-old Sophie Menzies, the battle is far from won. Because her father was a Tory (though she is herself a loyal patriot), Sophie is in danger of losing her home at Three Chimneys. Alone–with her mother gone to Heaven, her father having escaped to Scotland, and no word from her brother whose loyalties are being questioned–how can Sophie save her home? The only solution to her problems may just rest in the hands of her widowed neighbor General Seamus Ogilvy, newly returned home an American hero with a young daughter to raise. She needs his financial support as well as his political influence to save her home, and he needs a mother for his daughter.

Will a marriage of convenience solve both their problems? Can two broken people find healing together? Just when it seems that happily ever after might be attained, a visitor from the past threatens to tear the new family apart.

Laura Frantz’s The Mistress of Tall Acre is a beautiful story of love and restoration that will sweep readers off their feet. The plot builds suspense with the intrigue of secrets and spies all culminating into a surprising twist. The main characters are full of depth and their own authentic charm. Sophie has a tender, compassionate heart and a giving nature; however, she is strong in her convictions and loyalty. Seamus has a hardened intensity about him, a result of his personal losses and years away at war. At times, his actions and words are insensitive if not hurtful, yet he is a protector by nature who learns to open his heart again. For both characters, their story is one of finding and coming home, with heartaches and joys along the way. The relationships in this story, both the developing romance between the main characters and their parental bonds with Lily Cate, possess a poignant sweetness and devotion. The final chapters paint a message that truth brings freedom and with it hope for the future.

Justina McBride, CLJ

A Love So True / by Melissa Jagears. (Teaville Moral Society, 2) 11.13.2017

Bethany House ISBN 9780764217524

Adult Rating: 4

Award-winning author Melissa Jagears continues her historical fiction series set in Kansas during the early 1900s.

In A Love So True, Evelyn Wisely works at the Teaville mansion that rescues children from the red-light district, but her heart is for the women who live there as well. She wants to help them escape poverty and prostitution. To do that, she needs the support of local businessmen to fund her work. David Kingsman comes to Teaville to rebuild his father’s faltering factory business. His intent was to stay only as long as needed to put the business on solid footing again, and then he would return to Kansas CIty. However, he is attracted to Evelyn. He shows interest in Evelyn’s work and wants to lend support, but complications arise.

Evelyn is compassionate and fiercely independent, holding others at arm’s length because of a secret she hides. When her secret is finally revealed, it causes a rift that threatens her budding relationship with David and any possible future together. The conclusion is a nice surprise twist.

Like Jagears’ other novels, A Love So True has solid character development, a clear faith element (without being preachy), and excellent historical detail. Characters from A Heart Most Certain (book 1) appear as secondary characters, continuing their storyline. It is refreshing to read a novel set in a time period and in circumstances not as familiar to readers. Jagears’ books are not just historical romance–these books deal with Christian charity, adoption, responsibility, compassion, and redemption in the community around them.

Recommended for adults and high school students in school and public libraries. Fans of Regina Jennings and Jen Turano will enjoy this series.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Where Hope Prevails / by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. (Return to the Canadian West, 3) 10.31.2017

Bethany House ISBN 9780764217838

Adult Rating: 5

This series is delightful and Where Hope Prevails, the third book, is no exception. The characters are easy to connect with and very likable. Even Mr. Robert Harris Hughes, a type of villain in this story, will have one’s sympathy. This title basically stands alone, but being the third in a series, there are a few things the reader will not fully appreciate without having read the first two books.

When Beth Thatcher returns to her fall teaching job in her well-loved village of Coal Valley, she finds her life changed drastically. Not only does she have a new place to live and many topical changes in the town have occurred due to prosperity, but she finds there is now a second teacher who will share her responsibilities. And when she discovers that Mr. Robert Harris Hughes (yes, he always goes by all three names!) is not a believer, her hackles are raised and she is on the defensive.

Dealing with these changes and her upcoming wedding to Jarrick, Beth is struggling to keep her faith resting in the Lord and His all-knowing control. Her dear friend Molly encourages her, and when faced with a difficult decision, Beth is strong and decisive.

Highly recommended for fiction readers, particularly historical fiction.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ: When Courage Calls (Sep/Oct 2014); Where Trust Lies (Jul/Aug 2015).

Chasing Secrets / by Lynette Eason. (Elite Guardians, 4) 10.30.2017

Revell ISBN 9780800723910

Adult Rating: 5

Award-winning author Lynette Eason concludes her romantic suspense series about an agency of female bodyguards.

In Chasing Secrets, Elite Guardian Haley Callaghan is a survivor of the streets. She channels that into her competence as a bodyguard. All of a sudden, Haley’s life is in danger when a cold case takes her from South Carolina to Ireland. What happens when the bodyguard needs a bodyguard?

Detective Steven Rothwell accompanies her as they chase down the secrets of her past. Steven is intrigued by Haley, but who has time for romance when lives are on the line? Who is preventing her from uncovering the truth with those attempts on their lives? Will they unravel the family secrets before it is too late?

As always, Eason is an excellent storyteller, weaving plot twists along with her development of complex characters. Violence in the story is appropriate but not too graphic. The book grabs the reader’s attention from the very beginning. The clean romance develops at a realistic pace, and faith elements are present but not overpowering. The theme of forgiveness and letting go of bitterness is central to this book. The plot twists will keep the reader guessing until the very end.

Some characters from previous books make an appearance, continuing their storyline. The Elite Guardian series titles are unique in that each cover features a woman carrying a gun. Fans will look forward to her next series with eager anticipation!

Eason’s newest series will interest fans of DiAnn Mills, Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Irene Hannon. Recommended for adult collections in public libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ: Always Watching (Mar/Apr/May/Jun 2016); Without Warning (Jul/Aug/Sep2016), and Moving Target (Apr/May/Jun 2017).

A Name Unknown / by Roseanna M. White. (Shadows Over England, 1) 10.27.2017

Bethany ISBN 9780764219269

Adult Rating: 5

Multi-talented author Roseanna White kicks off a new series set in pre-World War I (Edwardian) England, when loyalties to one’s roots were questioned as tensions between Germany and England increased.

In A Name Unknown, orphaned Rosemary Gresham grew up on the streets of London, doing whatever was necessary to survive with other orphans, who became her family. Her skills as a pickpocket and her ability to blend into high society get her recruited for a specific job: discover the true allegiance of Peter Holstein. Pete is the author of adventure novels written under a pen name, and debates changing his official name as others become more suspicious of his loyalties. Is he loyal to Britain or Germany–after all, he has a German last name and has the ear of the king? To prove his loyalty and his family’s innocence, he needs to find a family document for proof, but where in his vastly disorganized library can he find it?

Rosemary shows up unannounced, pretending to be a librarian and offering to organize his family’s library as well as trace his family history to prove his family’s loyalties. Will she find the evidence she needs to complete her mission? Who is trying to undermine Peter’s relationship with the king? Will Peter find the document in time?

White excels at both character and plot development. Her book is rich in plot twists and historical detail, as well as romance and adventure. The relationships are wholesome, making them “clean reads” for adults and older teens. The next book in the series, A Song Unheard, will be available in 2018.

 Highly recommended to public libraries and school libraries.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

If I’m Found / by Terri Blackstock. (If I Run, 2) 10.26.2017

Zondervan ISBN 9780310332480

Adult Rating: 5

If I’m Found is the second installment in Terri Blackstock’s If I Run series. It is recommended that one first read If I Run, as the second title continues the story begun in the first.

Casey Cox is a dangerous fugitive. That’s what everyone in the media and the Shreveport Police Department think, anyway. Despite rescuing a kidnapped girl in Shady Grove, Casey is still on the run from Detectives Keegan and Rollins, who want her for the murder of Brent Pace, one of Casey’s closest friends. In order to find evidence to prove her innocence, Casey has taken on a new identity and is following leads. Soon, she finds herself in a motel room in Dallas, Texas where she finds a Bible with a suicide note tucked inside. Hunting down the Bible’s owner, Casey learns of the man’s fate and ends up establishing a life in Dallas under the name Miranda Henley. When Casey finds herself in the middle of trying to solve the mystery of a little girl’s abuse, Casey again puts herself in danger of being discovered. Is it possible for her to stay hidden in Dallas long enough to find evidence that proves her innocence?

Dylan Roberts has known the Pace family since he was child. After Brent’s murder, Mr. and Mrs. Pace hire Dylan to find Casey. Dylan could have caught Casey in Shady Grove after she saved the kidnapped girl, but he purposefully let her go–because he believes she’s innocent. Dylan has to balance his loyalty to the Paces, his belief that Casey did not murder Brent, and his suspicion of Keegan and Rollins, whom he believes to be dirty cops. Dylan has God to rely on, and he fears that Casey will collapse because she’s trying to survive on her own.

Will Dylan be able to help Casey? Will Casey ever trust Dylan enough to let him in on her life on the run? If I’m Found is a riveting continuation of the plot of If I Run. In this installment, the characters are developed further, and the plot deepens to reveal the breadth of the scheme detective Keegan and Rollins have drawn Casey into. If I’m Found will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment in the series. Will Casey finally prove her innocence?

Dani Seilhamer, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJIf I Run (Jul/Aug/Sep 2016).