Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

The Best Intentions
Scotland's Melody
The Secret Society of Salzburg
Secret of the Sonnets
20-40-60-Minute Dinners: Meals to Match the Time You Have
Through the Wilderness: My Journey of Redemption and Healing in the American Wild
Secret Santa Claus Club: A Tool to Help Parents Unwrap the Secret of Santa
Mr. Pudgins
Revenge Never Rests
The Best Mistake
Meriden Park
More Inspirational Stories for Young Women
The Great Tree: A Christmas Fable
To Capture His Heart
The Call of the Sea
Livvy and the Enchanted Woodland
Come, Gentle Night
The Bad Boy Theory
Guide To Smart Wedding Planning: What You want to know and everything you haven't thought of yet.

Sheila's favorite books »

2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Sheila has read 4 books toward her goal of 100 books.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Lines of Deception (The Kaspar Brothers #4) By Steve Anderson-Espionage Thriller Book Review


Book Synopsis

A West German nightclub owner goes behind the Iron Curtain on a desperate mission to save his brother, in this Cold War thriller by the author of Lost Kin.

West Germany, 1949. Former actor Max Kaspar suffered greatly in the Second World War. Now he owns a nightclub in Munich—and occasionally lends a hand to the newly formed CIA. Meanwhile, his brother Harry has ventured beyond the Iron Curtain to rescue an American scientist. When Harry is also taken captive, Max resolves to locate his brother at all costs. The last thing he expects is for Harry to go rogue.

Max’s treacherous quest takes him to Vienna and Prague to Soviet East Germany and Communist Poland. Along the way, dangerous operators from Harry’s past join the pursuit: his former lover Katarina, who’s working for the Israelis, and former Nazi Hartmut Dietz, now an agent of East German intelligence. But can anyone be trusted? Even the American scientist Stanley Samaras may not be the hero Harry had believed him to be . . .

“In this convincing and atmospheric spy tale set on the haunted landscape of postwar Europe, the engaging Max Kaspar leads us into deepening shadows in which the certainties of loyalty and morality grow dimmer at every turn. An intriguing and satisfying read.” —Dan Fesperman, author of 
Winter Work

“Steve Anderson brings the past to life . . . As close as you’ll get to a historical guide to the vagaries and treacheries and to the hidden byways and ratlines of post-war Europe.” —Luke McCallin, author of the Gregor Reinhardt novels

“Kept me on the edge of my seat, and the unexpected twists left me guessing until the final pages.” —Roccie Hill, author of 
The Blood of My Mother

Book Details
ISBN: 9781504086134
ISBN-10: 1504086139
Publisher: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Pages: 200
Language: English
Series: The Kaspar Brothers
****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review
Twists and Turns should be the name of this book. I've never traveled a literary road that had so many steep hills and bumps along the way.

Set in Allied-occupied East Germany and Poland shortly after World War II, Lines of Deception is the fourth book in the Kaspar Brothers series by Steve Anderson. The story revolves around Max and his younger brother Harry, who mysteriously disappears, possibly kidnapped. Against the backdrop of the chaotic post-World War II era, Max navigates a dangerous path in search of his missing sibling, where he encounters a network of doubt and suspicion within secretive organizations. There is a web of uncertainty and deception at every turn.

The plot goes into the unpredictable and dangerous side of the post-war era, where allegiances were murky and trust was a scarce commodity. Anderson's brilliant descriptions vividly recall the time and place, immersing readers in a rich espionage thriller woven with historical details. 

For those seeking an engrossing, fast-paced read with constant surprises, Lines of Deception is a highly engaging must-read for you.

****Meet Author Steve Anderson****

Steve Anderson is the author of numerous novels, mostly historical thrillers about gutsy underdogs. In an earlier life he earned an MA in history and was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany. Day jobs have included busy waiter, Associated Press rookie, and language instructor. He’s also written historical nonfiction and translated bestselling German novels. A hopeless soccer addict, he lives in his hometown of Portland, Oregon with his wife RenĂ©.

~*~*~*~*Purchase Lines of Deception~*~*~*~*

Friday, April 5, 2024

Second Guess (Book 6 of Griffin Force) By Julie Coulter Bellon-Military Romantic Suspense Book Review

 Book Synopsis

He let his guard down for a second. And now it’s going to cost him.

The most wanted terrorist in the world has finally been captured and Elliot Burke is escorting him to an undisclosed location---until their plane is hijacked.

Elliot's mission quickly becomes staying alive until Griffin Force can find him. Landing in Syria, he's faced with a new threat---someone who wants to take over the terrorist organization Elliot has spent years trying to dismantle. In the middle of the most dangerous operation of his life, he meets a mysterious woman named Eden who seems familiar to him somehow. He instinctively trusts her, but soon realizes he shouldn't have. She has her own agenda, one that doesn't include him.

The situation turns deadly, however, and Eden and Elliot must work together to stop a devastating escalation to the war on terror---one that could tip the balance of power in the wrong direction. An unexpected flare of attraction burns bright between them, and battling enemy forces side by side fans the flame, but lives are on the line and sacrifices must be made. Can they both survive what’s ahead?

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Stone Hall Books (February 27, 2024)
  • Genre: Military Action / Romantic Suspense Fiction
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 252 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1736312995
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review

Second Guess is book six in the Griffin Force series written by Author Julie Coulter Bellon. Once you dive into this book, it's difficult to put it down for meals or bedtime. Describing it as engaging would be quite accurate.

This novel focuses on Elliott, a medic from Griffin Force, who finds himself escorting a notorious and injured war criminal to an underground location. Along the way, he ultimately becomes a captive. Additionally, Eden, a nurse from Chol, gets entangled in the chaos alongside Elliott. Together, they must cooperate to secure their freedom. They also overhear about a secretive meeting among leaders of various worldwide war organizations that is soon to take place. I loved seeing how these two fantastic individual characters grew together as a team and loved when their relationship took an interesting turn. Elliott considers a particular thought about himself and Eden  that I thought to be wonderful.

"The invisible cord that had bound them together from the beginning now seemed to be tightly wrapped around them and he didn't mind at all." 

Wow! Kudos to the author because it was so beautifully written.

With such agonizing personal challenges, the couple is very relatable to readers, which reminds you of star-crossed lovers facing heartbreaking circumstances. 

While Second Guess can be enjoyed as a standalone novel, being familiar with the earlier books in the series enhances the overall reading experience. Packed with action, suspense, and a testament to the power of teamwork, Second Guess is an irresistible read that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to fans of the genre.

****Meet Author Julie Coulter Bellon****

Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of nearly two dozen romantic suspense books. Her book All Fall Down won the RONE award for Best Suspense, Pocket Full of Posies won a RONE Honorable Mention for Best Suspense and The Captain was a RONE award finalist for Best Suspense. Most recently, her books The Capture and Second Look were both Whitney finalists for Best Suspense/Mystery.

Julie loves to travel and her favorite cities she's visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. In her free time she loves to read, write, teach, watch Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

If you'd like to be the first to hear about Julie's new projects and receive a free book, you can sign up to be part of her VIP Readers Group at

~*~*~*~*Purchase Second Guess~*~*~*~*




Friday, March 29, 2024

Struck Dead: A Forensic Instincts Novel By Andrea Kane-Suspense Thriller Book Review

Struck Dead by Andrea Kane Banner

Struck Dead

by Andrea Kane

March 4 - 29, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Book Synopsis:

Struck Dead by Andrea Kane

The fragile line between life and death… Families that will never be the same…

When a tragic hit-and-run takes the life of a hardworking family man, multi-millionaire Christopher Hillington becomes the prime suspect, and the whole city of New York alights with speculation as to what happened.

But before the NYPD can establish Hillington’s guilt, he himself is brutally murdered in his own home. As he lays dying, he scrawls the name Casey Woods with his own blood, and the Forensic Instincts team is drawn into a complex mystery that has placed its president in the sights of a desperate killer.

A millionaire’s life is full of secrets and suspects. So as the baffled NYPD investigates Casey for the murder, and the body-count ratchets up, Casey herself becomes another potential victim. The FI team’s hardcore investigation has them twisting and turning through suspects and secrets, where the stakes intensify―and so does the collateral damage. As Casey and the team get closer to finding the killer, the unthinkable happens, and the life of one of FI’s own hangs in the blood-stained balance.

They say dead men tell no tales, but blood doesn’t lie. Peeling back layer after layer of deception, the team will cross whatever lines are necessary to solve the case, get justice for the families, and make their team whole again…unless the relentless killer gets to them first.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing
Publication Date: March 2024
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781682320631 (ISBN10: 1682320634)
Series: Forensic Instincts (#10)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.**** 

My Review

Andrea Kane is the author of Struck Dead, the first book I've read by this writer, and certainly not the last. This installment is the tenth in the Forensic Instincts series, featuring an intriguing storyline. Forensic Instincts is a team of private investigators, each excelling in their respective fields and operating as a tight-knit unit like a family. While each book can be enjoyed on its own, the shifting character dynamics and relationships made me more curious about their beginnings and I want to know more. 

 The plot revolves around two crimes and a multitude of clues to help decipher them. Initially focusing on a hit-and-run that killed a diligent family man with a very sick wife, multi-millionaire Christopher Hillington is accused of the murder. However, upon his murder, a cryptic blood-written note mentioning Casey Woods emerges, which casts doubt on her innocence. Casey, and her FI team, along with Casey's boyfriend Hutch and the local police detectives, all race against time to unravel the mysteries surrounding the hit-and-run and Christopher's murder. Casey's life could be on the line. The suspense grows because of the huge web of deception and danger.

It's evident the author has great skills in weaving a complex and unpredictable plot. Each detail and revelation played a crucial role in solving the mysteries. Another reason I need to read more from this author.

 The book proves to be very gripping and keeps readers interested throughout the novel. In addition, there are oodles of twists and mind games that help readers stay engaged in the storyline. As the clues build up, and motives are revealed, this all results in a satisfying and surprising ending, for this thrilling story.

Read an Excerpt:


Offices of Forensic Instincts
Tribeca, New York
Main conference room
Monday, 9:40 a.m.

Casey Woods, the president of Forensic Instincts, stood at the head of the oval table, her jaw having dropped. She pressed her iPhone closer to her ear, and tried to reconcile herself, both to who the caller was, and the reason for her call.

She certainly didn’t sound like the Angela King that Casey knew. And why in the name of heaven was she reaching out to Casey, of all people?

Angela repeated her original demand: “I need you to meet me now—as in drop everything and get over here.” This time her voice was commanding but shaken.

Shaken? Angela King?

Casey’s mind raced.

Angela was a high-powered and aggressive criminal defense attorney at Harris, Porter, & Donnelly. A virtual barracuda. Rumor had it that she was next up to make partner. No surprise. She successfully defended the richest of the rich, from corporate executives, to wealthy entrepreneurs, to “businessmen” with rumored links to Organized Crime—a fact she chose to overlook since they were affluent enough to pay her fees. She and Forensic Instincts were on opposite sides of law enforcement. They’d battled it out more than once the criminals that FI had helped catch becoming the very criminals Angela would defend.

Needless to say, the FI team and Angela weren’t friends.

And yet, here she was, calling Casey on an urgent, time-is-of-the-essence matter—one she seemed incredibly high-strung about.

“Casey?” Angela repeated. “Did you hear me?”

Casey lowered herself into a chair. “I heard you. What is this about? And why me, of all people?”

“You’ll see for yourself,” Angela replied. She rattled off the address of a luxury skyscraper on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “Hurry. I’m jeopardizing my career by waiting to call 9-1-1. I can’t wait much longer. But you have to view the scene first and later provide me with some answers. No more questions. Just come. I have a key to the building’s back door. I’ll let you in. We’ll use the freight elevator.”

Casey’s common sense was urging her to refuse. 9-1-1 meant a crime scene, and questions meant involving her. Both those things were screaming for her to stay away. She pushed aside that inner voice. She was too intrigued to refuse. “I’m on my way.”

She shrugged into her wool winter coat as she called John Nickels, Forensic Instincts’ number one on their security team. Then, she blew out the front door, not waiting to fill the FI team in on where she was going. There was no time. Plus, they’d only try to talk her out of it.

Holiday decorations were glistening everywhere, and tiny snowflakes danced in the air.

Casey didn’t notice any of it.

John pulled around a few minutes later, and Casey hopped into the car, gave him the address, and urged him to hurry.

With a brief nod, John was on his way, navigating the FDR Drive in record time. He got Casey to her destination in thirteen minutes. He dropped her off around back, far from the doorman’s view. Then, he waited to return her to the brownstone once her meeting was over, as per her instructions.

Angela was pacing inside the building, and opened the door to let Casey in the moment she saw her. No matter how dire the occasion, Angela always looked stunning. An Armani cobalt blue pants suit that set off her dark skin, matching four-inch Louboutin heels, and long wavy black hair styled at the highest end salon. She carried herself like a queen. In short, she was a knock-out.

Now she looked more rattled than Casey had ever seen her.

“Let’s go,” she said. She led the way to the freight elevator, where she and Casey rode up.

“Tell me what’s going on,” Casey stated flatly.

Angela didn’t answer. She glanced at her Apple Watch, her gaze snapping up as the elevator stopped on the twenty-first floor.

The doors slid open.

Angela paused only long enough to ensure that Casey was right behind her. Then, she strode down the hall, made a turn, and halted in front of Apartment Twenty-One B. She unlocked the door, pulled Casey inside, and faced her to offer the first few words of an explanation.

“This is the home of my client, Christopher Hillington. We had a nine-thirty AM meeting scheduled to be held here.”

Casey’s brows rose. Christopher Hillington was a renowned and phenomenally wealthy managing director of the private equity firm YNE. He was also a major suspect in a vehicular homicide, and Casey knew through various news sources that he’d been questioned several times by the NYPD and was on the verge of arrest.

“I see you know of him,” Angela said. “Given the circumstances, I’m not surprised.” She gestured toward a breathtaking sunken living room. “In here.”

Casey bit back her question about what Angela had just said. She sensed she was about to get her answers. So she remained silent.

The two women stepped down and Angela stood to a side and waited.

Casey got the full view immediately.

Christopher Hillington’s body was crumpled on the Oriental carpet beside his desk, blood pooling out around him. His head was bashed in, clearly having been struck multiple times by a heavy object. The bloodied sledge hammer lying next to the body was obviously the murder weapon. Judging from the damage done, the killer had been, not only determined, but brutal.

Casey eyeballed the scene, feeling sickened as well as confused. She was about to ask Angela what this horrific scene had to do with her when she spotted the letters, written in blood, on the lower edge of the desk, right beside Hillington’s outstretched arm.

She walked over, careful not to touch anything, squatted down, and squinted. The two words were completely legible, and they made Casey’s blood run cold.

Casey Woods.


Excerpt from Struck Dead by Andrea Kane. Copyright 2024 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Andrea Kane. All rights reserved.



***Meet Author Andrea Kane****

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty-two novels, including eighteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.
Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller.
She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted and Drawn in Blood.
Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, Struck Dead, showcases the dynamic, eclectic team of investigators as they hunt down a desperate killer who’s threatened one of their own. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence That Speaks, The Murder That Never Was, A Face To Die For, Dead In A Week, No Stone Unturned, At Any Cost, and Struck Dead.
Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, Echoes in the Mist, and Wishes in the Wind.
With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.
Kane lives in New Jersey with her family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan.
Author Hometown – Warren, New Jersey

Catch Up With Andrea Kane
Instagram - @authorandreakane
Twitter/X - @andrea_kane
Facebook - @AuthorAndreaKane



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Monday, March 25, 2024

A Girl Called Samson: A Novel By Amy Harmon-Historical Romance Book Review

Book Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Amy Harmon comes the saga of a young woman who dares to chart her own destiny in life and love during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.

Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself as a soldier and enlists in the Continental army. Her impressive height and lanky build make her transformation a convincing one, and it isn’t long before she finds herself confronting the horrors of war head-on.

But as Deborah fights for her country’s freedom, she must contend with the secret of who she is―and, ultimately, a surprising love she can’t deny.

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lake Union Publishing (April 1, 2023)
  • Genre: American Historical Romance
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 411 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1542039746
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review

Amy Harmon creates beautiful novels. "A Girl Called Samson" is a historical fiction piece set during the Revolutionary War.  My curiosity was piqued knowing that this novel was based on real figures from history. Deborah Samson, raised in a household of ten brothers, was an indentured servant in British America. She learned skills typically reserved for males such as shooting, fighting etc. Already knowing how to read, she memorized scriptures and reveled in the words of those promoting freedom from England. She yearned for this freedom and disguised herself as a boy to join the war effort. Deborah excelled as a soldier, gaining recognition from General John Paterson, who, along with everyone else was unaware of her true identity. Debroah's friendship with John blossomed, leading to her promotion as the general's aide. Her resilience and fortitude were exemplary, amidst the hardships she faced. 

The darker aspects of war are shown; harsh weather, famine, pain, death, and heartache. There is also a love story within the pages of the novel. The story embodies themes of freedom and empowerment while depicting Deborah's journey as a woman in a challenging era.  This inspiring story from American history motivates readers to pursue their dreams and aim higher than their boundaries.

****Meet Author Amy Harmon****
Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times bestselling author. Her books have been translated into thirty languages around the world. Amy has written nineteen novels in multiple genres, including the bestsellers, WHAT THE WIND KNOWS and WHERE THE LOST WANDER. Her fantasy novel, THE BIRD AND THE SWORD was a Goodreads Best Book finalist. FROM SAND AND ASH was named the 2016 Whitney Award winner for Book of the Year. For more, follow Amy at

~*~*~*~*Purchase ~*~*~*~*
A Girl Called Samson


Friday, March 22, 2024

Wet, Warm and Noisy: A Jake Ward Novel By David A. Willson-Speculative Crime Thriller Book Review

Wet, Warm and Noisy by David A. Willson Banner

Wet, Warm and Noisy

by David A. Willson

March 4-29, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Book Synopsis:

Wet, Warm and Noisy by David A. Willson

A supernatural crime thriller set in Alaska, the Last Frontier...

Surrounded by the unforgiving climate of the frozen north, Jake Ward, a tenacious Alaska State Trooper Investigator and cancer survivor, is on a relentless quest to regain his health and return to full-duty status.

But Ward's world takes a bone-chilling turn during a routine polygraph examination when a woman escapes custody, leaving an officer critically injured. What started as an ordinary investigation transforms into a complex web of intrigue, where medical experimentation and consciousness collide.

In "Wet, Warm, and Noisy," Willson masterfully blurs the boundaries between law enforcement and the supernatural, leading readers on a heart-pounding journey through a realm where the tangible and the mysterious intersect. With time slipping away, can Ward decipher the enigmas that defy reason, or will forces that transcend human experience overwhelm him?

Author David A. Willson, with over two decades of experience as an Alaska State Trooper, brings a rare authenticity to crime fiction that will both enlighten and captivate you. Prepare yourself for an electrifying thriller that challenges the very foundations of our reality.

Book Details:

Genre: Speculative Crime Thriller
Published by: Seeker Press
Publication Date: March 2024
Number of Pages: 236
Series: A Jake Ward Novel, 1
Book Links: Amazon | Goodread

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.**** 

My Review

An intense thriller is hidden within the pages of Wet, Warm, and Noisy, featuring Alaskan State Trooper Investigator, Jake Ward, who battled and survived cancer. Could a routine polygraph test he gives mark the beginning of the end for him? Set against the backdrop of the vast, Alaskan frozen terrain, this chilling tale combines Science Fiction, criminal elements, and a glimpse into the unknown. 

 Jake Ward, the central figure in the story, is intelligent, determined, and occasionally reckless which in turn, brings trouble to his door. The case he becomes entangled in is unlike any he has ever experienced. The story is told through three distinct perspectives, offering insight into police procedures and scientific studies examining potential quantum brain activity. The supernatural element adds depth and intensity to the story. This particular quote from the novel should raise potential readers' expectations, "The human brain is too wet, warm, and full of random noise to sustain quantum activity. But somehow they do."

The author's relaxed writing style, shaped by his experience as a former Alaskan State Trooper, produces a gripping thriller with an explosive finale.

Read an Excerpt:

Palmer, Alaska - Today

Cool springtime winds kicked up across the shooting range just outside the Palmer city limits. Behind the long mound of dirty ice and gravel that served as a backstop, the majestic Chugach mountains, half-covered in snow, stood proudly in the distance as two men faced a target stand. The target was cardboard, the outline of a human torso stapled to two upright posts. The men were real, however. One was an Alaska State Trooper firearms instructor serving as range master. The other was Trooper Investigator Jacob Ward.

The shot timer sounded and Ward’s right hand went to his hip. In a fluid motion, his thumb defeated the retention mechanism and his fingers clasped the handgrip to free the .40 caliber Glock pistol from his belt, then pointed it toward the target. At least he hadn’t gotten hung up on the holster this time.

Grip. Clear. Rock-and-lock.

Almost a second had already passed when his left hand moved from its place on his solar plexus to the pistol, completing his grip on the gun. The smack step.

He pushed it forward to the target, closing one eye as he focused on the front sight. The look step.

He imagined his index finger pulling the slack off the trigger as he prepared to deliver two shots, center mass, but couldn’t be sure, because he couldn’t feel it. Not even a bit.

Pop. Pop.

Two shots. One had gone early, and hit wide of the target because his presentation was terrible. It’d been too long since he’d been to the range and the results were showing. Then, of course, there was the other issue.

He aimed the gun higher, focusing on the head of the paper target.


His finger started to pull back again when the shot timer beeped again.


Too late.

“Overtime,” the range master said, as if Jake didn’t know. It was his third penalty in as many rounds. “First shot went off early, which wouldn’t be a problem if you had a better presentation, but it’s wide. And slow.”


“Fingers still numb?”

“Nah,” Ward lied, then turned back and forth, doing his safety scans before inserting a full magazine and replacing the pistol into the holster at his hip. Frustrated and nervous, he needlessly adjusted his hearing protection. A breeze swept across the range, startling him as it brought a chill to his shaved head. Maybe he should have worn something warmer than his State Trooper ball cap, but the blue BDUs and cap were as close to a uniform as he could get until he got approval for full duty. He wanted to feel like a Trooper today. In a bad way.

“Are you pushing this too soon? The Captain is happy to keep you on light duty for a while yet.”

“If I don’t get out here and just do it, I’ll never qualify. Neuropathy or not.”

“True. But with three overtimes already, I’m not sure you’re gonna make any progress with a qual course today.” The burly range master took a step closer, a concerned look on his face. Ward had rarely seen the man show any feeling - he was all business. “Everyone knows you shoot well, but you’ve had a rough go lately. You’ll get there, but not all at once. Let’s ditch the course and do some slow presentations. Dry practice, maybe. Fundamentals.”

But Ward didn’t move, instead squaring up to the target. It wasn’t just the neuropathy and numb fingers. He had weak toes and shaky hands. And shaky confidence. But he wouldn’t get his mojo back by sitting at a desk. And pity didn't help one bit.

“Suit yourself,” the range master said, then let out a huff and took a step back. He paused a moment, then raised his voice back to range levels. “Again, fail to stop drill at seven yards. Five seconds from the holster.”

Ward focused, his eyes drilling a hole in the target where he wanted the shots to hit.

“Shooter ready!”

The timer sounded.

* * *

The drive to work along the Glenn Highway was uneventful, other than a speeder that insisted on doing eighty-five, tailgating everyone who dared occupy their lane. If he’d been driving his assigned vehicle, Ward would have activated his emergency lights and pulled the punk over for a friendly conversation. But light duty status means no Trooper rig unless you have special permission, not even an unmarked one. And no gun, at least until he could qualify.

The occasional wind gust caused Ward’s blue Chevy pickup to sway within the lanes, distracting him from the sound of the political commentary streaming through the truck’s speakers. The talk radio host paused for a news report announcing a shooting at a gas station in Anchorage last night, municipal budget cuts, and something about a missing college kid. There would always be crime, and therefore, plenty of job security.

The traffic got thicker as Ward traveled through Eagle River, Anchorage’s closest suburb, then even worse as he exited off the highway onto Muldoon Road. Muldoon became Tudor Road, and he turned into the parking lot of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation.

He parked the truck and came through the side entrance, stopping at the break room to see if the coffee was rolling yet, hoping that a fellow caffeine addict had beaten him to work today. The empty pot announced no such luck. A few minutes later, he welcomed a steady stream of black goodness into the pot and he was on his way down the hall to the office.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Technical Crimes Unit was a modest space in a boring, rectangular building in east Anchorage. What happened between those walls, however, was anything but boring. One sergeant, two civilian techs and three investigators were involved in some of the biggest criminal investigations in Alaska. Even when they didn’t have primary case responsibility, they provided critical support to other officers. It was the variety that had attracted Ward to this kind of work. Sure, he had a talent for technology, which helped get the job, but that wasn’t why he was here. What attracted him was the fact that no two days were ever the same. He could write a search warrant for a child exploitation case in the morning, then do a forensic computer exam for a homicide case before lunch. He might kick a door on a building search, only to be called away to sit shotgun in a helicopter, acting as a spotter for a search and rescue. The variety of work duties assigned to an Alaska State Trooper Investigator was unparalleled.

Unless you were on light duty.


It was Sergeant Ballack down the hall, shouting from his office. Ward got to his feet, snagging his notebook and a pen on the way out of his cubicle. That shout always came with some ‘other duty as assigned,’ or so the trooper saying goes.

As always, the sergeant’s office smelled old, musty maybe. He didn't know if it was Ballack’s bad cologne or his shampoo, but then his sense of smell kinda sucked. Chemotherapy will do that to ya.

The Sergeant turned to face Ward as he entered, grabbing a few papers off his desk as he did so. The man had quite the glorious head of hair and it probably took some pretty fancy conditioner to keep its form, adding a good three inches to his already impressive height.

“Whatcha got for me, boss?”

“Have a seat,” Ballack said. He was impeccably dressed, as always, with a sharp red tie and blue tailored suit. “How ya feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ward, you’re not fine. Cut the crap. Nobody who’s battling pancreatic cancer is fine. Serious. How are you?”

“Surgery went well enough. Chemo is over and my oncologist thinks I’ve got a shot. Neuropathy is getting better every day. I’m ready for full duty, sir.”

“My wife has a friend that works at a cancer clinic. She said you’re not out of the woods till you hit five years. Is that right?”

Heck, I’d love to make it five years. A few months ago, I thought I was toast.

“With pancreatic, it comes back fast, or it doesn’t come back at all. If I make it two years, I’m probably ok.” He didn’t tell him about the other problems, though. Digestive issues causing low energy, the numb fingers and toes, memory lapses, concentration, yada yada. Ya can’t kill cancer cells without killing a lot of other stuff, apparently.

“Don’t rush it, ok?” Ballack put down the papers. “I can keep you busy on light duty for a long time.”

Not the words he wanted to hear, and standing in the Sarge’s office discussing death and light duty, which was almost as bad, tested Ward’s patience.

“What do you have there, Sarge?”

“Polygraph. You game?”

“Absolutely. What’s the case?”

“Palmer patrol picked up some crazy chick on grave shift. Ahem. I mean, ‘a person in crisis.’ She tried to break into a warehouse a couple of nights ago. Then she babbled about being kidnapped, something about a kid, all kinds of nutty stuff.” Ballack rolled his eyes. “I’m thinking poly her, see if she’s cracked. If her claims are legit, we’ll follow up. What do you think?”

“I’ve been looking for some actual police work to do.” He reached for the paper.

“Find out about the kidnapping. If it happened at all. If you get admissions about why she was trying to get into the warehouse, well, that’s really the target.”

“We rarely run polygraphs on victims.”

“She’s full of crap. She’s a doper who tried to rob a building and we want to know why. Poly is a pretext for interrogation on the burg.”

“That’s fine. I haven’t run a poly in months and I’m going blind on all those public information requests you keep handing me. It’ll give me something real to do.”

Ward moved to walk out of the office.


He turned back.

“Take it easy, son.”

“It’s a polygraph, boss.” Ward furrowed his brow. “I’ll survive.”

“Sergeant Vance told me about the range.”


“Don’t push it, Ward. I’m not talking about the polygraph, or the range. Just in general. Bodies take time to heal and you’ve been through hell.”

He has no idea. “Got it, boss.”

“I mean it. We’ll wait for you to be strong.”

Ward bit his lip, trying to hold back, but the pity was too much for his pride. “I got it, ok? Got it. You care. Everyone cares. Don’t rush it. Loud and clear. I’m good.”

Then he walked out of the room.


Excerpt from Wet, Warm and Noisy by David A. Willson. Copyright 2024 by David A. Willson. Reproduced with permission from David A. Willson. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

David A. Willson

David A. Willson, a retired Alaska State Trooper with more than two decades of service, brings unmatched authenticity to his crime fiction. During his career, he served as a certified police instructor, polygraph program coordinator, court-certified computer forensics expert and supervisor of both Major Crimes and Technical Crimes units. With over a decade in an investigative capacity, he supervised thousands of felony cases, chasing Alaska’s most dangerous criminals.

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Facebook - @DWillsonAuthor



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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Jim and Katherine By Traci Hunter Abramson-Romantic Suspense Book Review


 Book Synopsis

Jim Whitmore has lofty dreams of a bright political career. So when a well-connected friend invites him home for the weekend, the promise of rubbing shoulders with her congressman father and his professional associates is thrilling. What he doesn’t anticipate is meeting his friend’s sister, Katherine, an intriguing woman who immediately steals his heart.

After witnessing the arrest of one of her father’s colleagues in congress, Katherine Hudson is far too aware of the strains of living in the spotlight of Washington politics. The last thing she wants is to date a future politician, yet despite some early misgivings, she can’t resist Jim Whitmore’s charm. But then Jim is accused of a crime he didn’t commit—a crime that could ruin his reputation and his and Katherine’s chance at happiness together. With both of their futures on the line, Jim and Katherine enlist the help of their families to prove Jim’s innocence and salvage their hopes and dreams that seem ready to shatter.

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Covenant Communications (March 12, 2024)
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1524425702
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review

Jim and Katherine is a highly anticipated story among fans of Traci Hunter Abramson. This couple has appeared in three different series: Undercurrents, Saint Squad, and Guardian Series. It's exciting to finally learn about the love story between Jim and Katherine, as well as witness the start of Jim's political journey toward running for President of the United States. The romance between Jim and Katherine develops slowly, mainly due to Katherine's reluctance to be involved with someone with political ambitions because of her own father being a Congressman. She is focused on pursuing a career as a baker and aspiring to have her own catering company in the future. 

The narrative mainly focuses on solid character development, allowing readers to deepen their understanding of Jim and Katherine. As the story progresses, Jim encounters a challenging situation at his job, and he needs the involvement of family members, Jim's boss, and the FBI to uncover the person behind the crime. 

The novel concludes with a heartwarming ending suggesting a very promising future for the couple. I can attest that readers may find themselves reluctant for the story to end, as Traci Hunter Abramson continues to deliver captivating books that immerse readers into the lives of her characters. 

With over 55+ books to her name, Jim and Katherine stands out as a satisfying addition to the author's impressive collection, making her a highly recommended choice for fans of romantic suspense. Once you begin reading her novels you will be hooked.

****Meet Author Traci Hunter Abramson****

Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas for suspense novels as well as the skills needed to survive her children's teenage years. She has gone on to write a number of bestselling suspense novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists. She considers shoes an optional accessory which became evident when she won her first three Whitney Awards in 2013 (Code Word), 2014 (Deep Cover), and 2016 (Failsafe.) Safe House won Whitney Awards for both the mystery/suspense category as well as 2017 Adult Novel of the Year. She added two additional awards in 2019 (Mistaken Reality - best mystery/suspense and Sanctuary - Adult Novel of the Year.) She currently lives in Virginia with her family where she enjoys sports, travel, writing, and recently retired from coaching high school swimming. Follow Traci on BookBub at and on Facebook at

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Sunday, March 17, 2024

An Inconvenient Letter: A Proper Romance By Julie Wright-A Regency Romance Book Review


 Book Synopsis

1828, the London countryside.

For years, Marietta Stone has harbored a secret infatuation for the handsome Frederick Finch and has poured out her deepest feelings in a series of passionate love letters that she keeps in a locked drawer. But when Marietta’s private letters are accidentally delivered to Frederick’s house, she must retrieve them immediately before they fall into the wrong hands. If the letters were read by anyone else, the resulting scandal could jeopardize her reputation.

Gerard Hartwell has no time for infatuations, courtship, or even love. He must find a wife with a substantial inheritance if he wishes to save his late father’s bankrupt estate. When he accidentally discovers Marietta’s love letters at his cousin Frederick’s estate, he strikes a bargain with her. If she helps him court her older sister, Anne, he will return the letters and help Marietta win Frederick’s heart.

Marietta agrees, and the two quickly pretend to be courting in order to spend time with their individual love interests. Yet, what appeared to be a straightforward bargain becomes complicated when Gerard realizes that the more time he spends with Marietta, the more he wishes he could court her for real. But can he persuade Marietta to give him a chance when her heart might belong to another man?

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Shadow Mountain (March 5, 2024)
  • Series: Proper Romance Regency
  • Genre: Clean Regency Romance
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1639932305
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review

A naive young woman, besotted and writing secret love letters, finds those letters in the wrong hands. The beginning of this wholesome love story promised to be filled with emotion and a touch of humor. 

Childhood friends Marietta and Gerard have a long history. Etta's crush on her friend Lucy's brother, Frederick, leads her to write secret love letters that never reach their intended recipient. Gerard stumbles upon the mistakenly sent letters, giving him leverage over Etta. He uses this to manipulate her into aiding him in a scheme to court her sister Anne. Once successful, he agrees to return the letters. The situation resembles a Comedy of Errors. 

Meanwhile, facing financial trouble due to his late father's past mistakes, Gerard aims to save the family estate by marrying for money. This Proper Romance unfolds, leading to blackmail, a fake courtship, jealousy, and a minor love triangle. The slow-burn romance holds surprises as a cast of colorful characters adds mirth and humor. The feuding families reconcile, and true love blossoms, all stemming from one inconvenient letter. 

Julie Wright's latest novel promises an enjoyable read worth adding to your book collection.

****Meet Author Julie Wright****

Julie Wright (1972-still breathing) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She's lived in LA, Boston, and the literal middle of nowhere (don't ask). She wrote her first book when she was fifteen. Since then, she's written twenty-three novels and coauthored three. Julie is a two-time winner of the Whitney award for best romance with her books "Cross My Heart" and "Lies Jane Austen Told Me." The America Library Association listed “Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me” in their 2020 top ten best romances and "A Captain for Caroline Gray" in their 2021 top ten best romances. Her book "Death Thieves" was a Whitney finalist.

She has one husband, five kids, two grandbabies, one dog, and a varying amount of houseplants (depending on attrition).

She loves writing, reading, traveling, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner.

She used to speak fluent Swedish, but now speaks only well enough to cuss out her children in public.

She hates mayonnaise.

Learn more about Julie and her books


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