Having read the first two books in the Garret Kohl series, I jumped at a chance to read the third, and I was not disappointed!
I received a copy of this book via HarperCollins and NetGalley. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Garrett Kohl is completing his final mission and paying his debt to the CIA when this book opens. He’s promised his adopted Afghan son, Asadi, that he won’t be leaving again. He’s home for good, focused on rebuilding his Texas Panhandle ranch after a devastating wildfire and deepening his relationship with Lacey.
But, as in each Garrett Kohl novel, the bad guys have other ideas. This time they bring the fight to him. The Pantex Nuclear facility is the target.
I’m always amazed at how deep the corruption goes in the different agencies and branches of government. This author doesn’t shy away from revealing it in a realistic, believable, and knowledgeable way.
So, once again, Kohl and everyone he loves are placed in heart-stopping danger. And while he wants more than anything to protect his family, there is something deeply embedded inside him that won’t let him walk away from making every attempt to stop a bold terrorist act that could destroy America. And he recruits a ragtag crew of outcasts and outlaws to help him.
I love everything about this character. His dedication to and love for his family is the true mark of a hero. He’s tough, fearless, and invincible, yet on the other hand, he’s stumbling his way through his new role as a father.
This is the third book in this series, and even though the author wrapped up the ending nicely, he left enough loose threads to continue the story. Every book by Moore is well-written, gripping, and realistic. Any of these scenarios could happen. I love the setting, the wide and expansive Texas Panhandle. It’s a place where a man can get lost or found, depending on the situation. It was great to revisit all the characters from books one and two and to see how Asadi is adjusting to the ranching way of life. If you love a good thriller with underlying family dynamics, you will enjoy this series by Taylor Moore. Even though each book stands alone, I do recommend starting with the first book, Down Range, to get the characters and their roles established.
I received an early copy of this book from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here are expressly my own.
Former Army brat Morgan Albright has finally planted roots in a friendly neighborhood near Baltimore. Her friend and roommate Nina helps her make the mortgage payments, as does Morgan’s job as a bartender. But after she and Nina host their first dinner party—attended by Luke, the flirtatious IT guy who’d been chatting her up at the bar—her carefully built world is shattered. The back door glass is broken, cash and jewelry are missing, her car is gone, and Nina lies dead on the floor.
Soon, a horrific truth emerges: It was Morgan who let the monster in. “Luke” is actually a cold-hearted con artist named Gavin who targets a particular type of woman, steals her assets and identity, and then commits his ultimate goal: murder.
What the FBI tells Morgan is beyond chilling. Nina wasn’t his type. Morgan is. Nina was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Morgan’s nightmare is just beginning. Soon she has no choice but to flee to her mother’s home in Vermont. While she struggles to build something new, she meets another man, Miles Jameson. He isn’t flashy or flirtatious, and his family business has deep roots in town. But Gavin is still out there hunting new victims, and he hasn’t forgotten the one who got away.
This book is SO good! Once I got started with it, I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next, then next, and so on. You get the idea.
Morgan Albright was an army brat. As an adult, all she wanted was roots somewhere, anywhere. So, she settled in Maryland, saved, worked two jobs, bought a small house, and put down those roots. Then Luke Hudson happened—handsome, charming, a great conversationalist, and charismatic until he wasn’t. What he leaves behind in his wake all but destroys Morgan.
When FBI agents pay her a visit, she finally understands who and what Luke Hudson is and how lucky she is to be alive. Her best friend and housemate, Nina, is dead, and Morgan’s identity is stolen along with her car, house, and everything else she values. With her confidence destroyed, she knows only one place to go—home to the only stable place she ever knew, her grandmother’s house in Vermont.
As this story unfolds and Morgan gathers the strength to try and move forward, I found myself being proud of each tiny step she takes. Rekindling a beautiful relationship with her mother and grandmother, then landing a job at a classy resort, finally letting go of Nina’s rattletrap car, and rebuilding a life from the rubble takes guts and determination. Then she goes a step further and even allows handsome Miles Jameson into her life.
She’s Hudson’s only surviving victim. His real name is Gavin Rozwell, and he is a psychopathic serial killer leaving a string of victims behind him. To deepen his depravity, his first kill was his mother. Now, Morgan’s survived and eluded him. He has to fix that.
This book is a fast-paced page-turner. Morgan is smart, she is beautiful, and she’s gifted, not only in mixology but in people skills. Her job at the resort leads to life-changing events. But Rozwell isn’t giving up. He blames her for his failures, and that must be fixed. From the beginning page to the climactic ending, I was hooked! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story with tons of suspense, tension, and a dash of romance. This might be Roberts’ best-to-date!
The opening prologue to this story grabbed me before reading the first chapter. I had to know what happened with the little girl, Marissa. Fast forward fifteen years, and Marissa (now going by Mary) has graduated from college with a teaching degree. She’s studious, hard-working, and has no time for partying as her friends do. But they talked her into a weekend getaway to the beach, and Mary has always loved the water. It’s that weekend that changes her entire life. When catching a football, Jared Hawk knocks Mary over on the beach, and if the saying “love at first sight” ever applied to two people, it does for them. Neither Mary nor Jared do one-night stands, but their attraction is strong, and Mary spends the night with him. What happens after that is a series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. When Mary lands her first temporary teaching job, the last thing she expects to see is the handsome hunk, Jared Hawk, in her senior English class. Shocked is not a big enough word. Mary is pregnant, and Jared is the father, but she hasn’t seen him since that day and night on the beach. And now their situation is even more complicated by the difference in their ages (three years) and the fact that Mary is now his teacher. The story unfolds one delicious layer at a time as these two fight huge odds to find their way back to each other and create a family. Everything is on the line for both of them. Jared’s dream to play in the NFL league doesn’t fit with sudden family responsibilities at the age of 19. Mary’s teaching career, which just started, is in jeopardy. I rooted for them both throughout the story. The author did a good job of sprinkling in backstory and strong family dynamics throughout. If you are looking for an epic love story, you will no doubt enjoy this one as I did.
Flights of Fancy is a collection of short stories and one novella. I was hooked from the first story to the last. What a shocking twist the first story delivers. What appears to be a cold-blooded murder is really something else entirely. I don’t want to give it away. I’ll just say be prepared to be surprised. Each story through the collection is unique and different because of Sally’s unique perspective and writing style. I think if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the last one in the book, which is actually the novella. What a tragic tale, but as Sally is apt to do, justice is served on a heaping platter. This is an entertaining read and perfect for a bedtime story or two before lights out. The stories mainly focus on romance, ghosts, the supernatural, sweet justice, or, as you might want to say, revenge. I highly recommend it.
When James Hynde’s world came crashing down around his ears, he did what any weak-minded man would do—commit suicide. End it all. After all, He can’t face prison, which he knows is the only future for him, after stealing millions from the bank where he worked. With a bottle of whiskey in hand, he climbs to the top of a parking garage and throws himself off. Olivia Benet is rushing to get back to her car before her paid time runs out. How could fate possibly intervene at that exact moment for her to cushion Hynde’s fall? Yet it did. James only suffers minor injuries, while she is left completely paralyzed and unable to walk. Her career as a ballet dancer is ended, and her dream crushed. While James goes to prison for his crime of embezzlement, Olivia is faced with trying to rebuild her life again from a wheelchair. The only thing that keeps her going is the desire for revenge, to take from James as much as he took from her on that fateful day. What happens next is quite the twist, when James falls in love with Olivia. They even marry, once he is out of prison. But her motivation is still revenge, and she finds a way to get her hands on the hidden money that no one knew about except Hynde’s mother. Over and over again, things come together for James and Olivia, only to fall apart again throughout the story. I don’t want to leave any spoilers here, but as secrets are revealed, and lives are devastated, there only seems to be one way to go from rock bottom, and that is up. Ms. Turner did a great job writing this story, and I ignored chores to finish reading it. She even brought the COVID pandemic into the story in a completely realistic and believable way. If you are a fan of compelling drama with realistic overtones, you will enjoy this story as much as I did.
The Deanne family was suffering financial hardships, and Christmas was just around the corner. I loved how the father was willing to sell off a few possessions to buy meager gifts for his girls. But the biggest gift came in the form of a baby bird in need of a home. The girls eagerly took over the care of the baby bird, and it grew and flourished. When the family had the chance for a vacation to the ocean, they took the bird with them, and just when it appeared he had flown away, he showed back up for the trip home. This book shows how youngsters can care for baby animals and how at some point if it’s a wild animal, it has to be set free. This is a heartwarming family story perfect for young children.
What a rollercoaster ride! Kenna Rowan is broken, so broken that she is barely functioning. After spending five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, she’s returned to the town where it all started. Why? Because she has a five-year-old daughter, she gave birth to while in prison, whom she’s never seen. This story is complex and deeply layered. Kenna loved Scotty. Scotty died because of a car crash that, if Kenna had been rational and thinking, could have prevented. Everyone hates her for killing Scotty. So, how will she ever be able to see her daughter, Diem, who is being raised by Scotty’s parents? Enter Ledger, Scotty’s best friend. What happens after that kept me up late at night reading page after page. I had to get to a hopefully happy ending for Kenna. This book will twist you up inside. It will tug at your heartstrings and make you ball your fists in anger. It has it all. I highly recommend this to anyone who just devours a good story. Colleen Hoover never disappoints!
This collection of poetry and flash fiction could not be more aptly named. I love that the author dedicates her latest to the online writing community, which supports and inspires. The book starts with different forms of poetry, which Ms. Cronin writes with exquisite artistry. I loved them all, but of course, some stood out personally to me. “Rejection” tore at my heart. We’ve all experienced that emotion at some point in life, and this poem expresses it visually through words. “Dress Rehearsal” is another favorite, perfect for Halloween or masquerade balls. I also love that Ms. Cronin took the time to share her exploration of her ancestors through DNA. Therefore, “Origins” tops the list of fabulous poetry. Under the Short Story category, I had a few favorites as well. Topping the list is “The Healer.” A woman with the gift of healing fears for her life. But as in all of Ms. Cronin’s stories, it has a wonderful ending. “The Home Help” is another that resonated with me. It carries a warning to be careful of your words and actions, as they most always come back to roost. This is an eclectic collection of emotive writing that I can highly recommend to everyone, as there is something to please every reading palate.
I quite literally closed this book after finishing it, looked up at the ceiling, and said out loud, “Wow! What a story!” Josie Dean wanted family more than anything. An orphan child, she grew up in the foster care system, never knowing the feeling of security, of being wanted. Then she met Shane. In a very short time, they marry, and she is convinced she’s finally found what she craved. They will start a family, and Josie will make sure their children are always loved and secure. But then Shane disappears. Josie is left to pick up the pieces and create a life for herself. The one foster parent she’d had who showed caring and kindness was an accountant, so that is the career she chose to pursue. Two years later, Josie gets a call to come to the hospital, that her husband is being treated for a head injury. She wants nothing more than to serve him divorce papers. But Shane has other ideas, as he walks back into her life with no explanation of where he’s been. And to complicate matters more, he has amnesia and has left behind three dead bodies near the river. Shane and his three brothers were raised in a military camp and trained to be killing machines. Not only that, they were created in test tubes by a mad scientist. Each brother has superhuman abilities. Shane can hear a whisper from a block away. And his body is big, muscled, and immune to pain. But he loves Josie, his angel. And he’ll do anything to keep her safe as her life is in grave danger. Their relationship is volatile at times, the sex rough and passionate, and the commitment unwavering. So many unanswered questions. I wasn’t sure Josie would have the inner strength to stick it out. I hope this review is making sense. This story is so complex and has so many different layers, I’m still sorting it all out in my mind. And I don’t want to leave any spoilers. Rebecca Zanetti is fast becoming an automatic go-to author for me, as her stories never disappoint. If you love a story filled with thrilling action, a complex plot, and unforgettable characters, you will devour this book, as I did!
That’s it from me this month. I hope you saw something that grabbed your interest. These were all fantastic books!
I am delighted to share a new book release with you from Jaye Marie!
Sometime during the night, the morphine had worn off, and detective David Snow woke early in agony. Looking at the bed, he had been thrashing around for hours. The damp sheets and the smell of his sweat permeated the room, a testament to his agony.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, he tried to think what to do first. He needed a shower, coffee, and another dose of morphine. He needed more but had been denied another prescription, which had not pleased him. How was he supposed to live without adequate pain relief?
He knew morphine was addictive, that he would have to make do with a less powerful drug, but already knew his shoulder would not like it. The morphine barely controlled the pain as it was and did nothing for his ever-growing depression.
Staggering to the bathroom, he swallowed the last tablet in the bottle. He had an appointment at the hospital today for more unwanted therapy. He stumbled into the shower and turned on the hot water, aiming the spray at his shoulder. This was the only way to briefly reduce the screaming from the damaged nerves.
Standing in the steamy shower, he wondered if his wife Jane had left for work yet. He couldn’t remember seeing her the night before, her ice-cold expression, or her accusing eyes. She had almost given up on him, probably thought he should man up and get back to work, seeing as how the wounds had healed. She had been patient in the beginning but increasingly critical of his progress or lack thereof.
Later that day, after being brutally attacked by the smallest but strongest physiotherapist, he sat in his car, failing to will the excruciating pain to subside. He had begged for morphine to no avail. They had palmed him off with something that had not touched the pain. Despair ran riot inside his head, and at that precise moment, if he had a gun, he would have used it.
He had tried different ways of coping with the pain. And the favourite was imagining suitable revenge for the woman who had fired the lethal crossbow bolts into his back and chest. Ruth Winton, a serial killer intent on ridding the world of anyone who had let her down, and Snow was top of her list. A clever woman who planned her revenge with clinical determination. Learning to be a police officer to get to him was a stroke of genius. Just a pity he hadn’t been more aware of her intentions.
He had not expected her to shoot him, something else that depressed him. But then, he had never been able to read any woman’s mind clearly.
His mind traveled on, coming to rest on Kate Devereau as it usually did, someone he met long ago while trying to figure out who had wanted her dead. He smiled for the first time that day, remembering her wild hair and stubborn ways. He remembered the beautiful artwork that had always touched his heart and soul, as did the woman herself.
She had called him her Snowman, but when her ex-husband tried to kill her again, her mind shut down, and she retreated into her painting, leaving him behind.
According to his wife Jane, he had called out Kate’s name in his delirium at the hospital, something he knew she would never forget…
A damaged detective, out of a job
A relationship on the rocks
What does the future hold for David Snow?
Just when he thought life couldn’t get any worse
A ghost with a grudge adds to his pain
A ghost hell bent on stopping him from rebuilding his life…
I came to writing rather late but have always loved reading books. For someone who loathes computers with a passion, and I suspect this is mutual, I have managed to master the beast well enough to publish our own books.
I enjoy reading many different genres, so was very surprised to discover a passion for detective thrillers. I have written four of them to date, with more to follow.
I also enjoy running a joint website/blog with my writer sister, Anita Dawes, and meeting all the lovely people who drop in to say hello!
My other love is bonsai, and my small trees demand a lot of attention in the growing season, or they will die. Sometimes, it is just like having children!
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley and William Morrow Books. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
Riveting from start to finish! That’s the only way I know to describe Taylor Moore’s second book in the Garrett Kohl series. The story opens in the midst of a gripping confrontation with a deadly cartel boss in which bullets are flying, and bodies are falling. Folks, that’s just the first chapter, and it only escalates from there.
From the drug lord takedown in the first chapter to Russian espionage in the final chapters, this book kept me on the edge of my seat. Talon, a large international energy consortium, has moved into the Texas panhandle, where Garrett Kohl owns a ranch, and they possess the mineral rights to his land. That’s where the trouble starts. This book is filled with pedal-to-the-metal, heart-stopping danger and action involving the CIA, DEA, and high-level governments across the globe.
There are a good many characters and different points of view in this story, but each was necessary and vital to keep it moving. Knowing what each character was thinking and feeling added depth to the story without turning into head-hopping.
I love how Moore interjects such strong Texas sayings and influences. For example, “Among the many things to be learned since his arrival in Texas was the cowboy code. The rules weren’t written or spoken but rather lived out during everyday life.” And this: “Whether it was the rusted pumpjacks to the south or the windswept ranches and farmland to the north, it was a place with a deep soul and tough-as-leather exterior.”
Moore’s knowledge of and love for this rugged land shines through in his writing. Family loyalty, respect for and love for the godforsaken plains of Northwest Texas, and realistic, unforgettable characters are what place this pulse-pounding tale a head and shoulders above the rest.
The author put in just enough backstory that any reader won’t be lost by starting the series with this book. However, I do highly recommend reading “Down Range” first, simply because you don’t want to miss out on any part of this series!
If you are a fan of edge-of-your-seat thrillers, this series is for you!
Want to keep up with what this ambitious author is doing? Psssst…rumor has it that Down Range is being made into a movie. Congrats to Taylor!
I received this book via NetGalley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
A darkly twisted story that became almost too believable! The story begins as a tender love story. Harriet Reed is a writer. And she has fallen in love with not only a devastatingly handsome man but one who is also from one of the wealthiest families in America. The Holbecks are mega-wealthy But Harriet or Harry, as she is affectionately called has no idea at first. Edward Holbeck is estranged from his family. That’s just the beginning. As their relationship grows, he slips a ring on her finger. And not just any ring, but his great-grandmother’s wedding ring. This is where things start to change. Now, although she is terrified she wants to meet his family. After all, how bad could they be? As an orphan, she longs for a big family. But Edward warns that they are ‘different.’ Still, Harriet is ready to meet them. She is ill-prepared for the luxurious wealth they possess. And even more ill-prepared when her future father-in-law asks for a private meeting with her in his study. He hands her a tape that will change her life, everyone’s lives. So many secrets! Then she finds out the family plays games, and not the innocent kind of board games most families play. Their games are terrifying and eventually turn deadly. The twist in this story left me reeling. Told in first person through Harriet’s POV, it was easy to become immersed in the story. The author did a great job of scattering backstory in bits and pieces throughout so there was never a big info dump. As things unravel, I found myself glued to the book and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I had to know the identity of the murderer and it was shocking! I could easily see this book as a movie. It’s a psychological thriller with an unexpected twist.
I received this book complements of NetGalley and the publisher, William Morrow and Custom House.
The blurb for this book drew me in and it was promoted as “Paper Moon meets Badlands.” I have to add my own spin on that. To me, it was more like “Where The Crawdads Sing” meets John Steinbeck.
I’ve read a lot of books this year and this one is landing at the top of my “best books” ever list! I don’t think I’ve met such horribly flawed characters.
A baby girl without a name, unwanted, discarded at birth like a piece of garbage, who never knows acceptance or love through the many foster homes is the main character. “The policeman who had found her as an infant had supposedly named her Katherine, but the only time she heard her name spoken was when a teacher called roll or a social worker handed her off to a new foster family.“
At thirteen, she ran. She has one tiny piece of paper that tells her of an aunt who lives in Pecan Hollow and that’s where she blindly heads. Starving, she steals food from a gas station, then attempts to steal a bag of food from a Mustang parked outside when she gets caught. Instead of Manny turning her over to the authorities, he takes her in. She struggles when he asks her name and finally tells him it’s Kit. He feeds her. He grooms her for his wants and needs. Like in Paper Moon, she distracts the victims while Manny steals. She finally knows what it feels like to be loved, wanted, and useful.
But Manny’s petty theft escapades soon escalate to more and they became known as the Texaco Twosome for the string of armed robberies across the state. As Kit grows and develops into a teenager, her infatuation for Manny grows. He has not made any sexual advances toward her, and that is his one redeeming quality.
That eventually changes and Kit gets pregnant. Manny insists on an abortion. I don’t want to reveal too much about this story, but Manny gets caught in an armed robbery while Kit escapes. She arrives in Pecan Hollow at her aunt’s house with nothing but a baby inside her. It’s here she puts down roots.
Kit is tough. And her daughter, Charlie, refers to her mom as “bat-shit crazy.” Kit cannot feel pain. She only knows she is wounded when blood flows. But the pain that rests in her heart makes up for the lack of physical pain.
This story is well-written, gripping and I absolutely devoured it. The plot twists and thriller ending left me reeling. Kudos to this author for such a tremendous debut novel. While Caroline Frost is a new author to me, I can promise I will be reading everything she writes! She’s that good!
The book is set for release in February, 2022 but is available now for pre-order.
I might add that this author doesn’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, but seems to really appreciate each one, so you might consider following her.
Thank you for hosting me today, Jan. There’s a lot to be said for crossing the pond “on a magic carpet” in these difficult times. I’m here to launch my first crime thriller, Shattered Lives, and the first thing I want to say is it is true escapism. I’ve ignored Covid19 – in the book! I am double-jabbed, and crossing my fingers, in reality.
Escapism with a serial killer? Maybe. This is a five-star Amazon review.
Callianne: A Very Different “Killer-Thriller”!
I loved the way the first murder happened right at the start, though it’s scary being inside the mind of a psychopath. Shattered Lives has a complex plot, and knowing who the killer was, and his real target made it truly enthralling.
Ralph Thyme, an addicted gambler, and his wealthy grandmother’s only acknowledged heir, discovers he has an elder sister, Olivia, who was sold at birth. Suppose Olivia discovers her true identity and claims half the inheritance he craves? How far will he go to eliminate the threat?
Olivia escaped childhood sexual abuse. Despite horrific memories, nightmares, and fear, she is determined to save a stranger’s little girl from the same fate, and the solution she offers takes all her courage… and then some.
DCI Croft investigates a heinous case of rape, murder, and mutilation. Next to die, are a private detective and his pretty daughter… and then another woman… and another. Can DCI Croft identify and capture a psychopathic killer hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stands in his way before he murders his sister… or is it already too late for Olivia?
Excerpt featuring the serial killer.
Ralph was bored and frustrated; Sykes Gambling Club was closed for the installation of new machines, and he had problems to solve before he killed again. He wandered out into the garden. It would all be his soon, and when it was, he’d have a fully-glazed shelter built at the highest point – what the fuck were two of the gardeners doing?
‘Hold it higher than that, Lofty.’
‘Sod yer, I kent ’elp bein’ short. What’s this ’ere trellis for anyroad? This ’ere fence ’ides the rubbish bins from the windas.’
‘It’s a new support to train Sweet Pea plants. Dame Edith likes the flowers for the house.’
‘In autumn? Pull t’other one.’
‘Lift up, blast it, and keep it still while I tie it in place.’
He stopped listening. If Ralph Thyme wanted to keep a girl’s wrists together, those ties would do the trick. He approached quietly and grabbed a handful. If the men ran out, so what? Grandmother wasn’t coming home to stink the place out with flowers.
Back indoors, smugness faded. He’d seen how the ties were used, but he hadn’t expected them to be so stiff. No woman would hold her wrists together and wait! Then there was the hooker who’d screamed. Suppose one of the slags in the flat below had taken a night off and heard her? Would a scarf make a good gag? November had arrived with cold winds, so a woman wouldn’t be spooked by him wearing one. He pulled a selection out of his drawer. How much sound would penetrate cashmere? Was wool the best material? He opened drawers where some of Grandmother’s clothes were still stored. Useless female colours… except one.
Kicking his bedroom door closed, he scowled. He still didn’t know which to choose. He could try it on himself and bellow loudly – and have Mrs. Sharnbrook overhear if it didn’t work and send men to disable a mythical attacker? He could wait until she went out…
Mrs. Sharnbrook shopped personally sometimes, but the house was never empty and choosing an innocent item that worked as a gag was urgent. His cock gave him no peace and his hands itched to kill. He was holding scarves against the light to assess their density when Candice walked in with coffee.
‘Shall I ask Auntie to turn up the radiator thingy, sir?’
Trust Candice not to remember it was called a thermostat. The half-wit would forget him experimenting on her with scarves; if she did and said anything, nobody would believe her. It was risky, putting his hands near that long slender neck.
‘Sir, I could light the fire.’
Drivel, drivel! It was her life on the line unless he got satisfaction elsewhere. ‘I’m not cold now, Candice. I’m trying to decide which scarf is the warmest for when I go out.’
‘They all look warm, sir. I haven’t got a scarf, but I only go to the bins with rubbish.’
‘You shall choose one of mine if you help me with an experiment, Candice.’
‘Ooh, yes, sir. What’s an experiment?’
‘A way of –’ she wouldn’t understand “establishing facts” – ‘finding out something. If I tie a scarf over your mouth, and you shout, I’ll know which one is the thickest.’
Candice still looked baffled. ‘Yes, sir.’
The first two scarves allowed him to hear “is that right, sir”. He said nothing, so she was sure to have shouted louder, and the third scarf smothered her words. ‘Well done, Candice. Now, which scarf would you like?’
She pointed at the purple one that belonged to Grandmother. ‘That one, please, sir.’
It wouldn’t be missed by its owner, but it might be noticed. ‘Tell Auntie that Dame Edith said I could give it to you, or you’ll be in trouble.’
Candice shivered. ‘Yes, sir, I will.’
The half-wit feared Auntie, but silence from a victim was assured. Using the ties must be done quickly, and he had a girl here to practise on, but he’d already rewarded her. ‘Candice, do you have nice warm gloves?’
‘No, sir. My hands get sore every winter.’
‘I could buy you a pair, but I’d need to know the right size and… and not everyone’s wrists are a pair.’
‘A pair, sir?’
God, this was difficult. ‘Hold out both hands close together.’
‘Like this, sir?’
‘Perfect, Candice. Now, keep very still while I use my special measuring gadget.’ It took him far too long to wrap it around her wrists and slip the pointed end into the hole. ‘Ah! I need to practise, or the gloves might not fit.’
‘It’s a queer looking thing, sir. Will it hurt if it gets tighter?’
‘I suppose it might, but I won’t let it.’ At his sixth attempt, he applied one in a few seconds, and it locked. ‘Got it!’
‘Got what, sir?’
He pressed the tab and released her. ‘The correct size for your gloves.’
It was dark when he strolled down the steep hill to Garton North underground station debating whether to get off a train at a stop in Garton Central or travel on to Garton South. The second was where he’d found hookers, but he wanted a woman the Garton Gazette would write articles about, and half their readers probably thought hookers deserved anything they got, so another murdered would only get mentioned to up the victim count.
Amongst the crowd emerging from the station was a girl wearing a fur coat with a matching hat and gloves, and high-heeled shoes. Blonde hair flowed from beneath the hat and over her collar. She was perfect, and she was alone. Any second, a husband or father would arrive to pick her up; she was hovering almost on the kerb looking to her left.
He pretended to light a cigarette. She waited, tapping now and then at a mobile she produced from her handbag.
Another crowd of passengers swarmed from the station and took the waiting taxies. The girl stamped a foot, thrust the mobile into her pocket, and set off at a brisk walk. He followed, keeping to the opposite side of the road and watching for a darkened shop doorway deep enough to hide them both.
Five-Star Readers’ Favorite Review by Anne-Marie Reynolds
Shattered Lives by Sarah Stuart is a fascinating thriller that delves deep into two storylines: the mind of a psychopath and that of a sexual abuse survivor who must save another from the same fate to heal herself. It isn’t a story for younger readers or the faint-hearted: child sexual abuse, necrophilia, and graphic violence are just part of the substantial subject matter. This story delves into how a psychopath functions and what makes them tick, leading you down some dark paths through a truly twisted mind. It also guides you on a journey of discovery through the eyes of a child sex abuse survivor, more dark paths that eventually lead to the light. Shattered Lives is a gripping tale that will hold your heart in a vise while you read it, and it will have you turning the pages deep into the night.
I was so excited to get my hands on this book for many reasons, but one of them being that Taylor Moore was a part of my sister’s writing critique group in Amarillo, Texas. This is his debut novel.
Garrett Kohl is as rough and rugged as the land he grew up on in the Texas Panhandle. He’s as comfortable on the back of a horse as he is behind the wheel of a vehicle. He served in the military special forces and now works closely with the CIA as a DEA undercover agent. The story begins with immediate action and tension as Garrett is on a surveillance mission in Afghanistan. He knows he’s past the allowed U.S. perimeter but when he witnesses marauders massacre an entire village, except for one small boy, he cannot idly sit by. He doesn’t stop until they all pay for murdering the innocent people. With the boy in tow, he returns to headquarters to take his punishment for interfering.
Only the punishment he receives is nothing like what he imagined. He is ordered to take the boy with him and return to Texas, to keep him safe for future testimony against the terrorists.
Here’s where the story shifts and Garrett’s family dynamics come into play. His mother is deceased. His father is a grizzled old rancher with more grit than John Wayne. He has one brother, Bridger, a prominent attorney in the small town of Canadian. Bridger is married and has two twin daughters. I was prepared to dislike Garrett’s father for his rough ways and spiteful comments, but this author made me love him. The old man takes the young Afghan boy under his wing and teaches him the ways of the ranch. The story’s pace cools down to a slow burn while building toward the climax.
While Garrett thinks he’s escaped the tense and deadly world of high-stakes drug dealing, instead he’s walked right into the most deadly fight of all and it involves his entire family. The Garza drug cartel is deeply embedded in the panhandle working through a local oil company to move the products.
When Garrett’s brother, Bridger is forced to represent Mescalero Oil, drawing up bogus contracts and representing two of the oil company’s goons who get caught with drugs, he plays a game of Russian roulette with his family as the bargaining chips. The brothers join forces, letting their bygone differences be bygones. They won’t rest until the family is safe again as well as the Afghan boy, Asadi.
The non-stop action, the authenticity of the setting, the weapons, the military tactics, and the characters are compelling and unforgettable. This author managed to combine high-tension thriller drama with family dynamics in such a way that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. All of the tertiary characters are multi-dimensional and each with their own story. If I had to offer any critique of the story, it would be that Garrett thought about and talked about how much he loved and missed his nieces and sister-in-law, and yet he never made an effort to go see them until they were under the cartel’s thumb, so I think a thread got dropped.
This is a story we will be seeing on the big screen. It’s that good! I highly recommend it.
I received this book via NetGalley and the publisher, William Morrow, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About the Author
I’m often asked how I ended up at the CIA, a question to which there are more than a few answers. But what I think people really want to know is what edged a regular guy like me out of the light and into the shadows of the intelligence world: a what makes you tick kind of thing.
It’s a question I can answer in one single phrase—passion for adventure.
This is the same passion that drew me to childhood heroes like Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Jack Ryan. This quest for adventure propelled me on a solo journey at the age of twenty-four through the jungles of Bolivia, over the Andes, and across the raging Drake Passage on a Russian icebreaker to Antarctica.
And it’s the same passion I have now that spurs me to write thriller novels and action-adventure stories.
We may grow up, but we don’t have to give in. No matter our age or what we do, a good passion for adventure never dies. And if you’re like me and you’re searching for the next one, then look no further. You’ve arrived.
I am super happy to turn my blog over to Gwen Plano today so that she can tell us about her new book, The Culmination A New Beginning!
Thank you so much, Jan, for inviting me to your amazing blog and for helping me launch The Culmination, a new beginning. It just went public on Amazon, and I’m super excited. To celebrate, the Kindle edition is on sale at 99¢ through December.
So, what’s the book about? The Culmination can best be described as a military thriller. It tackles difficult topics such as denuclearization, the power struggles over oil in the Middle East, as well as the ever-present danger of war. Readers will find themselves sitting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walking in the historic Red Square, and laughing with children in an orphanage in Turkey. They will glimpse the horror of war and watch the give and take of a negotiated peace. Readers will also meet the two heads of state who fall in love and subsequently commit themselves to creating a world in which all are family.
I never expected to write this book, but in some ways, I had no choice. The characters crowded into my office and insisted that I listen to them. In a very real way, they wrote the book. I simply tapped the keys and learned of the urgent need to become family. How perfect for Thanksgiving!
The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.
Leaders from nine countries with nuclear arsenals gather in Reykjavik, Iceland to negotiate a nuclear disarmament treaty. Vice President Margaret Adler from the United States chairs the meetings. After an intense and heated exchange between two heads of state, Adler calls for order and addresses the group.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, or anyone else, we’d admit freely that we don’t trust, that we live in fear, and that we are always ready to impose a deadly strike. In fact, our power is measured by our ability to destroy. Isn’t that right?
“No one suggests that we abandon our need to protect our country’s boundaries and our people. Rather, today, we lay the foundation for an alternative way of relating. Shall we proceed?”
Members glance one at another and nod their agreement.
For the next two hours, the leaders present and discuss their preliminary ideas for progressive nuclear disarmament. The Pakistani leader asks for a break, and Adler concurs.
“Let’s reconvene in fifteen minutes,” she says.
As chairs get pushed back, and people stand, Adler walks out onto the deck. A chilly breeze brushes her skin, which she welcomes. This is her first visit to Iceland, and she smiles. What a perfect location.
The Russian President interrupts her reveries when he stands by her side. “This is a day I could not have imagined, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Vice President of the United States, looking out on …”
Adler smiles, “I couldn’t have imagined it either. Here we are, the two most powerful countries in the world, nations who have hated one another for a century, marveling at natural beauty and a child playing with a kite. No, I couldn’t have imagined.”
President Smirnov gives a side glance and asks, “Where did it occur?”
Adler realizes that he’s noticed her arm prosthesis. “Afghanistan.”
“Ah, another reason to hate Russians.”
“Don’t we all have reasons? You wonder who holds the power—truly. Those of us who can destroy, or a child who plays innocently with her kite?”
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