ARC Review of Exposed (Tracers # 7) by Laura Griffin

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Purchase on Amazon: Exposed (Tracers)

Expected Publication Date: June 25, 2013

Exposed (Tracers #7) by Laura Griffin

Book Description

The seventh thrilling novel in the Tracers series from an author who “excels at detailing the mystery and the chase” (Publishers Weekly) features a forensic photographer and an FBI agent who form an uneasy partnership to find a vicious criminal.

With the click of her camera, Maddie Callahan inadvertently added herself to the hit list of a criminal mastermind the FBI’s been investigating for months. Agent Brian Beckmann is determined to protect the sexy photographer, but she may be his only lead.

 As a forensic photographer, Maddie is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been a target. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie has something that could be even more valuable to investigators. With the help of her colleagues at the Tracers crime lab, Maddie uncovers DNA evidence that provides a desperately needed break in the case.

Although Brian is reluctant to involve Maddie, she’s determined to help with the investigation and the two set out to track a vicious criminal known as The Doctor, whose far-reaching violence has led to multiple deaths. But as the task force gets closer to catching the deadly Doctor, Maddie is in more danger than ever…

*****

Book Review

Laura Griffin is well-known for writing romantic suspense novels, and I’ve had her works on my to-read list for quite a while. I was excited to be given the opportunity to review her upcoming release Exposed. At first, I was worried that I would be lost since I hadn’t read any of the previous books. However, I felt this book can stand alone, and I was able to follow the main plot easily. I think I just missed out on the back-story of some of the characters who played minor roles in this novel but were featured in previous books within this series.

The intense action in the first chapter of Exposed grabbed my attention, and from that point, all I could do was hang on for a romantic, exciting, and suspenseful read!
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Maddie Callahan is the protagonist in the story, and I found her to be a flawed but likeable character. She is a talented photographer who works for the Delphi Center crime-scene unit by day and freelances in her spare time.  After the death of her two-year-old daughter, Maddie became determined to use her skills to help solve murders and to bring justice to victims of crimes. By choice, Maddie has chosen to focus solely on her career with little time given to having a social life. Numbness is the key to her holding everything together.

When she is attacked walking to her car after a photo shoot in a park, she is introduced to the very sexy FBI agent, Brian Beckman. Brian and his partner are in the vicinity working on a kidnapping case and think Maddie’s attack may be related. Maddie’s pictures may have inadvertently captured the identity of the kidnappers or can at least provide clues to find the suspects.

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The FBI is determined to find Jolene, the kidnapped woman, who is a major witness in an operation to take down a lethal drug dealer, Gordon Mladovic. Brian suspects Mladovic is behind the kidnapping, but needs to find evidence to support his belief. The guilt Brian feels about the kidnapping occurring while Jolene was under his protection pushes his urgency to find Jolene still alive. The fact that Maddie’s photographs have made her a target for elimination and that she has access to the best technology offered by the Delphi Center provide the impetus to bring Maddie and Brian together.

Griffin does a great job of smoothly alternating points of view between Brian and Maddie to reveal the motivations behind their actions. At times, she also switches to Jolene’s point-of-view to reveal the direness of her situation, and this increases the suspense of the story, as readers wait to discover if she can be rescued in time. Griffin also includes the antagonist’s point of view to provide insight into what drives his evil intentions. Mladovic’s greed and desire for power are realistic motivations for the story’s conflict.

Beckman has an immediate attraction to Maggie, who is a bit older than he, and he is confounded when she acts oblivious to his good looks and charm. Secretly, however, Maddie is attracted to Brian’s confident nature, motivated attitude as well as his intellect and perceptiveness. His handsome looks only magnify the attraction. Nevertheless, because of his young age and her fear of relationships, Maddie is determined to stay far away from the temptation of Brian Beckman.

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Brian’s persistence in his pursuit of a romantic relationship with Maddie contrasted with her resistance to allow him to get close kept me engaged throughout the story. I couldn’t help but cheer Brian on and hope that he can get through to Maddie so she will deal with and move beyond her fears.

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As the plot develops, life-threatening dramatic events lead to a nail-biting climax and a practical resolution.

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To sum up, Griffin has written a cohesive and unified story that effectively blends action-filled suspense and a tender romance. I am now a Laura Griffin fan and can’t wait to dive into the other books in this series.

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I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher, Pocket Books, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Rating

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Read an excerpt from Exposed on Laura Griffin’s website

*****

About the Author

Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of writing romantic suspense. Her books have won numerous awards, including a RITA Award (Whisper of Warning) and a Daphne du Maurier Award (Untraceable). Laura currently lives in Austin where she is working on her next book.

Author Links

Goodreads Profile | Official Website | Twitter 

*****

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Music to Complement Exposed

Jason Mraz: “I Won’t Give Up”

*****

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Start Reading the Tracer Series Now

Book 1: Untraceable

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Purchase on Amazon: Untraceable

A Tracers Trilogy: Books 1-3

Tracers Trilogy

Purchase on Amazon: Laura Griffin – A Tracers Trilogy: Untraceable, Unspeakable, Unforgivable

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Review & Giveaway for Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets Trilogy #1)

Fatal Exposure

Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets Trilogy # 1) by Gail Barrett

Fatal Exposure

Book Description

Cold-case detective Parker McCall has spent fifteen years trying to solve his brother’s murder.  Now a chance photo of the killer in the newspaper sets him hard on the woman’s trail.  A former teenaged runaway, reclusive, award-winning photojournalist B.K. Elliot chronicles the harsh reality of life on the streets — until a photo in the paper reveals her identity, blowing the lid off her secret past.  With a powerful murderer now dogging her heels, and her police officer step-father determined to silence her permanently, the last person she can afford to trust is a cop.  So why does sexy police detective Parker McCall tempt her to break her silence and resurrect ideals she’d lost years ago?  As danger closes in, and with more than her own life at stake, Brynn must decide if the duty-bound cop will betray her…or heal her battered heart.

*****

Book Review

This story starts off with an effective hook that immediately pulled me into the story. Detective Parker McCall gets a major lead on who may have murdered his younger brother, Tommy, fifteen years ago.

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When a photo of the famed but reclusive photojournalist Brynn Elliot appears in the newspaper, Parker recognizes her from years ago as a runaway teen seen with Tommy. He suspects Brynn may be the one who murdered Tommy or at the very least can provide answers about his death.

Parker is a dedicated, loyal officer who takes his job seriously. He has worked hard to move up in the ranks, despite the suspicions of other officers that Parker may be just like his father, also an officer, who was found to be corrupt on the job.  Although Parker is a stickler for going by the books and following the chain of command, he doesn’t want to risk that this new lead will not be pursued to the fullest extent. Therefore, he decides to find and question Brynn by himself.  This first decision to break the rules of police procedure will soon lead to more decisions on how far Parker will go in his quest for justice.

Brynn has been on her own since she was a young girl, running from a gruesome past and carrying deadly secrets. She grew up surviving on the streets with her two friends Haley and Nadine, also on the run for different reasons.

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Now that Brynn’s identity has been exposed, she must flee again. Before she can escape, however, Parker finds and confronts her about her relationship with his brother.  Brynn soon realizes Parker will not let her continue running and hiding until his brother’s murderer is brought to justice:

“Everything about Parker McCall reeked of danger-from the jut of his steel-hard jaw to those penetrating black eyes that scrutinized every move. He was too smart. Too determined. And there wasn’t a chance he’d leave her alone. “

Although Brynn is distrustful of others, especially the police, she and Parker form an initially shaky alliance that leads them to investigate a secretive plot of murder, perversion, and corruption that goes farther up in the chain of command than anyone ever expected.

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Parker and Brynn work together in this intriguing mystery revealing random clues that they must struggle to put together while on the run from those who want them dead.  I appreciated how the author frequently reiterates the connections Parker and Brynn make as well as addressing the looming questions that still need to be answered. These tactics helped me to avoid getting lost or overwhelmed by the numerous complications and conflicts that occur in this fast-paced suspense.

The romance between Brynn and Parker develops gradually and realistically as both get to know each other, and the foundation for their love is based on mutual admiration and respect. Each understands the loneliness and pain that the other endures.

During a passionate kiss with Parker, Brynn “had the oddest sensation as if he could see straight through to her soul.

As if he saw her

The world fell away. She stayed trapped in his heated gaze, a riot of emotions thickening her throat. Because beyond the rampaging hunger, beyond the need erupting like a wildfire between them, was something else. Something deeper. A sense of connection. A feeling that she’d finally found a man she could depend on. A man who would guard and protect her. A man she could trust with her heart-a thought that both thrilled and terrified her.” 

Although this couple’s observations and thoughts reveal their attraction for one another, I wished for more sizzling sparks to really show that ongoing passion between them.

The protagonists, Parker and Brynn, are dynamic, well-rounded characters who gained my respect through their solid belief in doing what is right regardless of the sacrifices that must be made. Even though both characters have experienced heart-breaking betrayal and disillusionment in the past, each has emerged as a survivor, stronger than one might expect given their traumatic experiences.  In addition, to the external dangers surrounding them, I enjoyed watching these two characters grow over the course of the story as they are forced to deal with and resolve their internal conflicts.

This is a well written romantic suspense that answers many questions behind the mystery but also left me wondering about further aspects of the deeply embedded corruption that will lead into the second book in the Buried Secrets trilogy.  The second and third books will focus on Haley’s and Nadine’s stories, respectively.

I received a copy of this book from the author via Goddess Fish Promotions for an honest review.

Rating

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*****

Excerpt from Fatal Exposure

“I can’t breathe.”

Parker didn’t doubt it. He probably had seventy pounds of muscle on her.

“Please.” She sounded desperate now. “I…can’t…breathe.”

Unable to dredge up any sympathy, he steeled his jaw. “You going to talk to me this time?”

“Yes.”

“Somehow I’m not convinced.”

“I said I would.” Despite her predicament, temper flared into her voice.

“You’d better,” he warned. “You try running again, and I’ll hurt you for real this time.”

Too ticked off to trust her, he rolled over, positioning himself on top.  Then he lumbered to his feet, every sense alert in case she tried to bolt.  When she didn’t make a move to join him, he reached down and pulled her up. Still breathing heavily, he pulled out his badge and held it up.

“Put your hands behind your back and face the fence,” he ordered, taking out his handcuffs.

“What?”

“You heard me.” He wasn’t taking the chance that she’d run again.

“You have no right—”

“You ran from the police. You assaulted an officer. I don’t need another reason than that. Now turn around—unless you’d rather I haul you in.”

Her gaze flicked to his shield again. Even in the dim light trickling from a nearby row house, he could see her jaw go tight. But she turned and held out her hands.

Wary of another trick, he slapped on the handcuffs, the delicate feel of her wrist bones causing a startling burst of heat in his blood. Forget that she’s a woman, he reminded himself as she whirled around. She was a possible suspect in his brother’s death, the last one to see him alive, not a potential date.

He picked up the backpack she’d dropped and searched it, unearthing the small, semiautomatic pistol she’d hidden inside. Still keeping one eye on her, he removed the magazine. “You have a permit for this?”

Her gaze skidded away.

“Right.” Stupid question. He stuffed the gun in his jacket pocket and shouldered the bag.

Her eyes returned to his. “So what do you want?”

“Information.”

“You always tackle people you want to question?”

“You always climb out the window when someone knocks on your door?”

Her mouth pressed into a line.

*****

About the Author

Gail Barrett

A former RITA® and Daphne finalist, Gail Barrett has received the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best, The National Readers’ Choice Award, and numerous other awards.  She lives with her husband in Western Maryland.  Readers can contact her through her website: www.gailbarrett.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gail.barrett.961#!/gail.barrett.961

Links to Buy the Book

Amazon: Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets) ebookFatal Exposure (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) book

Barnes & Noble paperback and Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fatal-exposure-gail-barrett/1113942081?ean=9780373278275

*****

Giveaway

Gail will be awarding a $25 Amazon / BN (or other bookstore of the winner’s choice) GC to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour.

To post a comment or leave feedback, please click on the green “Leave a Comment” link below this post following the tags.

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Upcoming Books in the Trilogy

Book 2: A Kiss to Die For –  August 2013

Book 3: Seduced by His Target – December 2013

Cover Reveal for Hold On To Me by Elisabeth Naughton

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Hold On To Me by Elisabeth Naughton

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Book Description

He thinks he’s finally found the one.

Mitch Mathews never believed in love—at least not the happily ever after kind. Then he met Simone Conners. Just one night with the sexy lawyer made him reevaluate his priorities and look toward a future he never planned. The only hang up is making her see it too. 

She’s almost ready for a second chance.

What started out as a casual hookup with a rugged geologist has turned into something a whole lot more. Simone’s on the verge of handing over her heart, but fear over what Mitch will say and do when he learns who she used to be holds her back.

The past could destroy their future…

Just when Simone is about to take a chance on forever with Mitch, the mistakes of her past catch up with her. Suddenly it’s not just her safety on the line anymore, it’s his too. Forced into hiding, Mitch demands answers, and Simone realizes the only way to protect everything she holds dear is to delve into a past she’s spent fourteen years trying to forget. As they search for the truth, they discover secrets, lies and a rekindled passion that burns hotter than before. But they also uncover a conspiracy that threatens the very fabric of society. One that could cost them more than just their future…it could cost them their lives.

*****

About the Author

authorI was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be an author at the age of six. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I didn’t write stories in my journal or entertain my relatives by firelight after Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, I was just a normal, everyday kid. I liked to read, but I wasn’t exceptional at it. And when my teachers complimented me on my writing abilities, I brushed them off. I did, however, always have a penchant for the unique and absurd. And as my mother told me all throughout my childhood, I should have been an actress—I was a drama queen before my time.

Years ago, my husband bought me Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With The Wind. If you ever saw the book, you know it’s a long one. I sat and read that thing from cover to cover, and dreamed of one day being a writer. But I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until years later when I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. And my husband? After that week of reading where I neglected him and everything else until I finished Scarlett, he vowed never to buy me another book again. Little did he know I’d one day end up sitting at a keyboard all day drafting my own stories.

My writing journey has not been easy. I didn’t just sit down one day, decide I was going to write a book and voila! sell my very first attempt. As most authors will probably agree, the path to publication is filled with hours of work, pulling all-nighters I thought I’d given up in college, sacrifices, rejections, but a love I discovered along the way I just can’t live without. Instead of a big, thick book to read by lamplight (I do read much smaller ones when I get the chance), I’ve traded in my reading obsession for a laptop. And I’ve never been happier.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful family and fabulous husband who put up with my writing—and obsessive personality—even when life is chaotic. More than once my kids have been late to swimming or baseball because I needed just five more minutes to finish a scene. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me. I also have amazing friends and a support network I couldn’t survive without. So to all of you out there who have encouraged me along the way, sent me emails and fan letters, phone calls and congratulations, I just want to say, thank you. You make this whole writing gig that much more enjoyable. I truly wouldn’t be here without you.

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://www.elisabethnaughton.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElisNaughton

FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.naughton1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2002988.Elisabeth_Naughton

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