*ARC REVIEW* ~ The Spymaster’s Redeemer (Dreda’s Men), by Alexie Bolton

#historical #romance

Blurb

Two people on opposite sides of a civil war. Frances Dreda is an officer in the Taylian State Security Bureau who enforces obedience to the law by the deterrent of prison and the noose. He investigates the activities of the outspoken and intellectual Lady Felea Whelani who he suspects aids the rebels by codebreaking and feeding and educating their children.

They should be mortal enemies but are intrigued by each other but he mistrusts women and Felea is repulsed by his detachment and his severity. Can love overcome cultural differences and prejudice? Can Felea humanise this officer?

My Review ~ 4 and a half stars

Entertaining and Compulsive 

Alexie Bolton’s The Spymaster’s Redeemer, the author’s first novel, kept me entertained from beginning to end. It is a sweeping historical romance with complex characters and a well developed plot.

The central story is that of the relationship between the two protagonists – the ‘Spymaster’ of the title Frances Dreda, and Lady Felea, the daughter of an academic suspected of supporting enemies of the Emperor of Taylia, a fictional country near the Austria- Hungary border. There is also much emphasis on the politics and power play between different individuals and factions. The push and pull between the couple also highlight the differing expectations put on men and women. I found the result to be a thoroughly compulsive read as the author skilfully weaves these different threads together.

I enjoyed both the sexual tension and the heated exchanges between Dreda and Felea which begin as soon as their paths cross. Dreda is investigating her father’s potential guilt, a crime punishable by death and as his daughter Felea herself is under suspicion. Dreda takes an uncharacteristic personal interest in the case as something about the young woman intrigues him, taking it on himself to establish the extent of her guilt or innocence. As for Felea, she fears for her own fate and that of her father and wants rid of this odious man who is an unwelcome threat to her sanity and wellbeing! I will not divulge how the plot develops, suffice to say that the story is a complex one and is full of unexpected twists with plenty of action, suspense and romance.

Of particular merit is the good job the author does in developing both Dreda’s and Felea’s characters. I found Dreda to be a fascinating individual who attracts and repels at the same time. As the Emperor’s right hand man, he is cold and calculating, a misogynist who uses women for his own ends and a master manipulator. Felea blindsides him not only with her exuberance and apparent innocence but also with her intelligence. I enjoyed how she gets under his skin and challenges his preconceptions. For her part she is an accomplished individual due to the freedoms given to her by her academic father and loathes the thought of being controlled by a man. Although they are opposites in many respects, they are well matched and I enjoyed how their relationship develops given the obstacles in their way, not least their own pride and preconceptions.

It is an impressive first novel by the author and I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Connect with the Author

https://www.facebook.com/The-Spymasters-Redeemer-292324974543422/

 

*REVIEW* – Hiding in Plain Sight, by Lucy Felthouse

#romance #espionage #romanticsuspense

Adult content

Book Blurb

Mallory Scott is an espionage operative, working for the British government. She’s travelled all over the world, often going undercover and infiltrating criminal organisations in order to extract the intelligence needed to dismantle their operations and bring the perpetrators to justice. Given her usual targets are terrorists, people-traffickers, drug-traffickers and arms dealers, her latest assignment should be relatively simple. A small group of Brits is raking in serious money in the diamond-scamming business—and although their MO is theft and forgery, rather than hurting people, they still need to be stopped. But up until now, they’ve proved elusive—no one can catch them in the act, or find a shred of evidence against them.

That’s where Mallory comes in. She follows the group to Amsterdam, planning to get her claws in to one of the gang. Luck is on her side, and within twenty-four hours she’s lunching with Baxter Collinson, the youngest—and most handsome—diamond thief. What she’s not expecting, however, is to get on with him quite so well. Attraction bubbles between them—and for once, on Mallory’s part, it isn’t an act. For the first time in her career, Mallory struggles with what she must do.

Can she ignore her heart for the sake of her career?

My Review – 5 stars

Fun and sexy romantic suspense!

A super romantic suspense from Lucy Felthouse. Mallory’s work as an espionage operative is often dangerous and she fully expects her latest assignment, that of gathering evidence to take down a group of diamond thieves, to be a doddle. She has absolutely no qualms about using her feminine wiles to entrap one of the gang’s members, the young and handsome Baxter Collinson. All goes to plan except she makes an immediate connection to Baxter and begins to lose her heart in the process… For the first time she feels guilty about the role she has played in a criminal’s impending arrest and incarceration and she is torn.

I won’t delve any more into the plot but suffice to say I LOVED the unexpected twist. Do the couple have a future? How will Baxter view Mallory’s deceit? Can Mallory continue to maintain her professional detachment towards the very man who has made her question her actions?

I adored Mallory, a strong woman and a consummate professional, dedicated to her work as an undercover agent – she reminded me of a female James Bond as she enjoys her job and has a healthy attitude when it comes to sex! As for Baxter, he is both SO sexy and cheeky and has a fantastic sense of humour – it is no wonder Mallory falls for him. I really felt for him when he realises that Mallory deliberately orchestrated their relationship.

The characters are realistic and I easily identified with their emotions – I particularly loved the banter and the scenes between the main couple. It’s also got plenty of smexy and sizzling scenes which the author excels at.

Recommended for readers of romantic suspense who enjoy a read which contains some sexy and explicit scenes.

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Connect with the Author

http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/lucyfelthousewriter/

 

*ARC REVIEW* ~ The Red Cobra, by Rob Sinclair

#crime #spy #thriller

Blurb

Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.

A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …

So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?

The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.

My Review ~ Engrossing and Expertly Written Spy Thriller ~ 5 stars TOP READ

This read is  another tour de force from bestselling author Rob Sinclair. In his latest Spy Thriller, The Red Cobra, we are reunited with James Ryker (aka Carl Logan from the author’s page-turning Enemy series). Prepare for a white knuckle ride as Ryker goes up against the mafia, intelligence services, bent policeman and a mysterious figure from his past. The read is a standalone but the book’s conclusion lays the ground nicely for the continuation of the series.

Ryker’s life in Spain has become an idyllic one, far removed from his previous life as an employee of the Joint Intelligence Agency. However, he is tempted out of retirement by his former boss, to investigate a vicious murder in Spain. The victim’s fingerprints match those of a notorious female assassin, the Red Cobra, whom Ryker has encountered in his former life as Carl Logan. Ryker knows that the body is not that of his old adversary and it appears that moves are afoot to compromise the identity of fellow agents rendering them at risk. It is a race against time to track down the perpetrators and prevent more lives being lost.

The plot is fast moving and totally engrossing. Much of the action takes place in Spain, although some chapters pan back to the past in the Soviet Union and beyond where we find out about The Red Cobra and her shared history with Ryker. This added a great deal of depth to the story and helped explain their motivations. There are a number of well drawn secondary characters  who accompany Ryker on his quest to put the pieces of a complex puzzle together. Aside from the main protaganists, I also enjoyed the character of Eva. Ryker certainly has his work cut out to identify friend from foe, find out the whereabouts of the real Red Cobra and the identity of the murder victim.

I enjoyed how in this read the author has further developed the complex character of Ryker, who I met as Carl Logan in his previous books. Although Ryker still maintains his hard and ruthless persona with his take no prisoners approach, as events unfold we witness how this complex man has now developed his own code of honour and is not simply just a blunt instrument of his employers. I loved the role of the enigmatic Red Cobra in the plot and the part she played in Ryker’s past and thought that the author portrayed her role as a female assassin in expert fashion.

There is plenty of action, suspense and some violent and gory scenes as the plot unravels and Ryker carries out his mission in the sweltering heat of Spain’s Costas. The stakes are high and there are twists aplenty! Indeed, The Red Cobra is a real treat for lovers of Spy Thrillers and is, I feel, the author’s best Carl Logan inspired book yet. I am so looking forward to the next in the series.

Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of  fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Sinclair-746087495413628/

**ARC REVIEW** ~ Hunt for the Enemy, by Rob Sinclair (The Enemy Series #3)

International Suspense Thriller

Hunt for the Enemy by Rob Sinclair is a terrific read for lovers of suspense thrillers. It sucked me right into the deadly world of international espionage, where life is  bloody and brutal and knowing who your enemies are is often the biggest challenge of all……

Hunt

Book Blurb

The breathtaking and action-packed finale to the bestselling Enemy series. The Hunt is on. They’ve erased his past. Wiped out his very existence. But Carl Logan isn’t finished yet. On the run in a harsh Russian winter, Logan – once an invaluable asset but now branded a traitor – has been framed for murder. His own firm, the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency, have labeled him a rogue operative after two decades of loyal service. The agency is hunting him down… and they’re not the only ones. But there’s much more at stake than just Logan’s life. One by one, agents and informants from all sides, all allegiances, are dying. And Carl Logan is the only man who can put a stop to it, once and for all.

My Review

A Terrific High -Octane Read – Gritty and Realistic

Five stars *****

I was completely blown away by Rob Sinclair’s Hunt for the Enemy, a fast-paced, high-octane thriller, in which Carl Logan, the hero of the author’s Enemy series, is on the run and fighting for his life. The plot effortlessly weaves together Logan’s past with contemporary events in the shady and dangerous world of international espionage. The read takes us from London to the heart of Moscow, to the Scottish Highlands, the frozen and desolate Kazakhstan, the heat of Morocco and Venezuela and the bustle of China.

We learn much about Logan’s brutal and bloody life in the JIA and how, over the years, his character has developed: his desire to be more than a deadly assassin putting him at odds with his colleagues and the hits he is ordered to make making him deadly enemies he is unaware of. In this novel Logan is reunited with a former lover, a woman who is also on the run. She betrayed him in the past and it remains to be seen whether she will do so again.

Like the hero Logan, I was kept guessing throughout about who was friend or foe and whom he could trust. There is certainly no honour amongst spies in the world depicted in this read! The hero not only has to escape his known enemies but also risks betrayal after betrayal from fellow agents and has to keep his wits about him to survive. The plot is expertly executed, suspenseful with many twists and turns and I was on tender hooks as the body count rises and the net closes in against Logan as we approach the finale.

A fantastic read for lovers of international spy thrillers.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this novel was provided by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Sinclair-746087495413628/

https://twitter.com/RSinclairAuthor

 

**ARC REVIEW** ~ To Tame the Wind (Prequel to the Agents of the Crown Trilogy & book 1 of the Donet duology), by Regan Walker

Historical Romance

Blurb

To Tame the WindParis 1782… AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN 
All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear.… her.
A BATTLE IS JOINED
The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.This is the prequel to the Agents of the Crown trilogy but can be read as a stand alone.

My Review *****

Swashbuckling Captor-Captive Romance

This is another breathtaking read from Regan Walker. This author excels at transporting the reader into the life and times of her characters and in creating truly memorable heroes and heroines. To Tame the Wind, a prequel to her Agents of the Crown Trilogy and the first book in the Donet Duology, is set in England and France during the time of the American War of Independence, when France was a strong ally to the colonies in its struggles against England. Once again I felt that I had stepped back into history as I experienced what life was like on-board ship and on land in eighteenth century France and England. The machinations of war throw the hero and heroine together and also threaten to tear them apart.

Captor-captive romances are one of my favourite themes in romance. This read, where the devilishly handsome and swoon worthy Captain Powell seizes Claire, the convent raised daughter of a pirate, in a desperate attempt to recover his men and ship, is a super spin on the theme. When the couple meet it is not long before sparks fly and passion ignites, yet what future for a couple whose countries are sworn enemies?

Simon’s loyalties are truly torn in this novel between his growing attraction for his spirited captive and his commitment to free his men and reclaim his ship from his enemy, Claire’s father. He also has to grapple with the scheming of the powers that be who would use Claire as a pawn, regardless of her safety. I loved how protective he is of Claire and honourable he is towards her – but don’t get me wrong there are plenty of passionate scenes between the couple and sexual tension and emotions in particular are high! How will Simon be able to hand Claire, a woman whom he craves above all others, over to is enemy and to an uncertain future? How can he not when the lives of others hang in the balance?

Claire is a real firecracker of a heroine who upon meeting Simon begins to doubt where her future lies. Will she admit her love for Simon and if so how can she possibly avoid returning to her father and the land of her birth when so much rests on her safe return? Regan Walker’s characters and plot are as usual complex and I could not second guess if and how the couple would find their HEA.

While romance is well and truly at the centre of this read I loved how Regan Walker effortlessly and seamlessly immerses the reader in the real life historical events and personalities of the day. To Tame the Wind is once again a superb read for lovers of Historical Romance from this author.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

An ARC of this book was received from the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Buy Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

Regan Walker’s website

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Wind Raven, #3 in The Agents of the Crown Trilogy, by Regan Walker

ReganWalker_WindRaven800Swashbuckling Adventure and Romance on the High Seas

Having read the first two novels in Regan Walker’s Agents of the Crown Trilogy, Racing with the Wind and Against the Wind (scroll down for links to my reviews), I was thrilled to once again have the chance to read and review this author’s work. Wind Raven, the third book in the series, is a fast-paced, swashbuckling romance. Although set in the Regency period, most of the action takes place on board ship and in the Caribbean, far away from the ballrooms and house parties held by the English aristocracy. Scroll on down for the book blurb and my review and links to enable you to connect with Regan Walker, an author who is going from strength to strength with her historical romances.

Book Blurb

Ordered by the Prince Regent into the Caribbean, English sea captain and former privateer Jean Nicholas Powell has no time for women onboard the Wind Raven, especially not Tara McConnell. The impudent American forced herself aboard, and so she’ll get more than she bargained for: Instead of a direct sail to Baltimore, she’ll join their quest to investigate a rampaging pirate, the infamous Roberto Cofresi. But the hoyden thinks she can crew with his men, and though he bans her from the rigging, Nick is captivated watching her lithe, luscious movements on deck. Facing high seas, storms, cutthroats and the endless unknown, he must protect his ship, his passenger, his crew. But on this voyage, with this woman, there is a greater danger: to his heart.

My Review

Wind Raven is a super read from start to finish, combining rip-roaring adventure and romance, with an elements of danger and suspense. The pairing of the English Captain Nick, on a secret mission for the Regent, and the unorthodox and headstrong American Tara McConnell, provides the perfect ingredients for a memorable romp on the high seas.

The swoon worthy Captain Nick, the Raven to his crew, is dedicated to life at sea. Although women certainly have their uses to him, as he is no monk, he will give his heart to no woman, due to deceit in the past. He dislikes females on board ship even as passengers and he is wary of American women in particular. However, social obligation gives him no option but to agree to accept Tara as his passenger, despite his mission for the Regent.

Tara is feisty heroine, more at home on board ship than in the ballroom, due to working alongside her father and brothers on their clippers for much of her life. She has not forgiven the English for the loss of one of her brothers at sea during a battle in the recent hostilities between her homeland and England. She refuses to stay in her cabin whilst aboard ship and wants to play an active role alongside the crew of the Wind Raven, a crew who soon adopt her as one of their own.

I adored the many scenes between Nick and Tara as she tries to carve out a role for herself aboard ship as he tries to control her and persuade her otherwise. I also loved how Nick is beguiled by her mixture of innocence, passion and unconventionality that completely foxes him and compels him to re-examine his long-held convictions and open his heart to love. It is clear early on that not only sparks will fly but also that passion will ignite between this couple, who are so well matched, if only they could see it. Although Nick is a gentleman and initially resolves not to act on his attraction to Tara, as the weeks pass and life aboard ship throws them in close proximity together, the inevitable happens. Yet as they get ever closer to Tara’s home in Baltimore what future is there for this couple who are often at loggerheads, despite their attraction, and whose lives seem so far apart? In addition, will they survive the danger that the Regent’s mission has put them in as the pirate Corfesi is a worthy adversary and no fool.

Regan Walker’s writing is not only sublime, but her characters are complex and believable and the research that she has carried out into life aboard ship and into the social life and politics of the era adds depth and interest to the narrative. I once again enjoyed how the author included real historical figures in the story, which is one of her trademarks. Wind Raven is a real page turner and a super addition to the first two books in The Agents of the Crown Trilogy. I recommend it to readers of historical romances who like strong and unconventional heroes and heroines in a plot full of adventure and intrigue.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

This book was given to me by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Purchase Links

Amazon US     Amazon UK

RacingWithTheWind_800px-001

ReganWalker_AgainstTheWind_logo-001Click here for my reviews of Racing with the and and Against the Wind, the first two books in the trilogy.

 

 

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Regan Walker’s website

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Publisher Boroughs Publishing Group

A Heartless Design, #1 in the Secrets of the Zodiac series, by Elizabeth Cole

PrintFast Paced and Oh So Sexy Regency Romantic Suspense!

A Heartless Design, by Elizabeth Cole, is an absolute delight. It contains a Regency style James Bond  and an unconventional lady of independent means in a raunchy and rambunctious read. It absolutely sizzles with passion and desire and houses secrets that threaten the very security of the country, peppered with danger and deceit. It is guaranteed to entertain and get your heart beating ever faster as the tale develops and reaches its conclusion.

In A Heartless Design Cordelia Bering, a singular young woman who does not always abide by society’s norms, lives in London with her widowed aunt Leona, her parents having died. Cordelia uses practical scientific knowledge, gained from working with her late father, to secure a lucracive income to support her household. To continue her work in this field, Cordelia has many secrets, including one that could endanger her life. Secrets that she is compelled to hide from all, including any prospective suitor, let alone a husband. Cordelia is dubbed ‘heartless’ as she shuns the many marriage offers she continues to have on account of her engaging character and beauty.

Whilst attending a ball with her aunt, Cordelia encounters a mystery man to whom she has not been introduced. Sebastien Thorne, now the Duke of Thornewell, is one of the Crown’s elite secret agents belonging to a group known as the Zodiac. He has been summoned to the ball by his handler to retrieve instructions as to his next mission -preventing a certain piece of technical information leaving Britain and falling into enemy hands, which could give them a significant advantage. Sebastien can afford for nothing to get in his way, not even a woman as beguiling and challenging as Cordelia. However, as Sebastien pursues his leads, it becomes evident that Cordelia is involved and hiding something and he is compelled to employ whatever means necessary to persuade her to reveal her secrets to fulfil his mission and secure the safety of the nation.  However, he did not gamble on his growing feelings for the lady……

Cordelia is a woman in a man’s world, who has to rely on subterfuge and her intelligence to pursue her dream of pursuing the scientific inquiries she loves and  I was quickly drawn to her as a heroine. She is unaware of Sebastien’s work for the Crown and is therefore suspicious of him, although grateful when he proves himself useful to her safety on a number of occasions. Sebastien, for his part, does not conform to society and battles with the conflicting priorities of his title and work as a secret agent. He immediately senses Cordelia’s vulnerability, at the same time being drawn to her unconventional demeanour and kindred spirit. It is clear that they are attracted to each other and have a lot in common – but can a relationship succeed when Cordelia has vowed never to marry and there is so much deceit between them, not to mention those who are out to prise Cordelia’s secrets from her by fair means or foul? The couple must learn to trust one another and  reveal all to one another before it is too late. There is plenty of sexual tension between the main couple and a number of sensual lovemaking scenes which I enjoyed. Both the plot and dialogue were well crafted, believable and full of suspense.

The secondary characters were also a delight to get to know, those making up Cordelia’s household and other members of the Zodiac in particular. I hope to find out more about them in future novels in the series by the author, which I sincerely hope that she plans to write. The bad guys in the story were menacing without being over the top and added sufficient suspense and tension to the plot without detracting from the romance.

I recommend this novel to readers of historical romance, particularly Regency romance, who like suspense with their read and who enjoy unconventional heroines. All in all a rollicking Regency read, which I heartily recommend!

Reviewed by Tina Williams

I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for my unbiased review.

 http://skysparkbooks.com/aheartlessdesign/

https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethColeWrites

http://storycartel.com/