ARC Review of Against the Mark (The Raines of Wind Canyon #9)

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Release Date: August 27, 2013

Against the Mark (Raines of Wind Canyon #9) by Kat Martin

Book Description

The perfect murder is a work of art

In one catastrophic instant, Haley Warren’s estranged father was taken from her. She never got the chance to reconnect with him, so now she’s doing it the only way she’s got left: by proving the explosion that killed him was no accident.

When Tyler Brodie, the provocative and handsome P.I. hired by Haley, discovers that her father was investigating a suspected art theft, he knows his death is no coincidence. After all, tens of millions of dollars worth of stolen art could motivate a thief to go to any lengths—including getting rid of anyone poking around where they don’t belong.

As Haley and Ty get closer to the truth, the truth gets ugly: Did Haley’s dad know too much…or was he in on the take? And although Ty’s a consummate professional, he’s having trouble focusing on the facts of the case, and not the figure of his gorgeous client. The two are determined to get to the bottom of the case, even if it means they die trying.

Book Review

If you are already a fan of Kat Martin’s romantic suspense novels, then you will not be disappointed with Against the Mark, the latest upcoming release in The Raines of Canyon series.  Even though I have only read one other book in the series, I had no problem jumping into this book and getting immersed in the featured romance and murder investigation into an art theft ring.

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Martin has written a well-developed suspense plot that complements an equally well-developed romance between Ty Brodie, an easy-going country boy from Texas and Haley Warren, a somewhat uptight socialite from Chicago. Because of his friendship to Haley’s great-aunt, Ty agrees to investigate into the supposed accidental death of Haley’s father three months ago.  Although the attraction between Ty and Haley is instantaneous, their romance develops at a slower, more realistic pace.

Ty is an all-around great hero. He’s handsome, confident and as a former special ops Marine, he has the skills and experience to handle himself and protect Haley in dangerous situations.  His charisma, integrity, and openness with Haley make him swoon worthy.

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What I like best about Ty  is that he is always honest with Haley, and he doesn’t play emotional games. He never withholds his feelings to leave Haley (and me as a reader) in a state of perpetual angst.

It took a while before I really warmed up to Haley. However, she is a dynamic character who experiences the most change and emotional growth over the course of the book. At first she struck me as superficial, a woman who places too much importance on money and appearances.  Even Ty is initially put off by her attitude. Yet, as more and more of Haley’s backstory is revealed, I realized that her perceptions have, to a large degree, been skewed by her mother’s ideology and values.  Although she have may started the investigation into her father’s death out of a sense of guilt, I do like that Haley refuses to stop probing into her father’s death even when the level of danger intensifies.  It is when Haley puts her step-mother’s well being above her own feelings that I started to appreciate her as a heroine.

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Haley hasn’t had much experience with men or with being in love. She really doesn’t understand all the hoopla about sex until she kisses Ty.  He awakens a side of passion and sensuality within her that no one else ever has.

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Their physical relationship paves the way for them to connect on a much deeper level. Ty is not perfect. He has a dark side that emerges whenever he’s engaged in dangerous, adrenaline-pumping situations. Instead of being pushed away, Haley knows exactly how to deal with and calm an edgy, angry Ty. Unfortunately, Haley’s insecurities and single-minded attitude about marriage creates unnecessary complications and emotional pain in the latter part of the book.

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Martin has created a believable plot about art theft , and I enjoyed learning more about the intricate process of creating a forgery.

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The mystery behind Haley’s father’s death becomes clear early in the book, but the author does throw in unexpected plot twists that kept me off guard.

The tension and suspense build as Ty and Haley find themselves in increasingly greater danger as they work together to uncover and capture the mastermind behind the recent stolen art.  I found the scene where police are led to the ringleader somewhat anticlimactic, but, just when I thought I had the resolution figured out, Martin shakes things up so  the outcome was not as clear cut as I expected.

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The supporting characters all play a meaningful role in facilitating the plot and they add texture and liveliness to round out this fictitious world Martin has created. Moreover, the spark between Ty’s cousin, Dylan and Haley’s best friend, Lane has been ignited, and now I look forward to their future love story.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating

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About the Author

Kat Martin

Kathleen Kelly Martin (aka Kathy Lawrence, Kasey Mars)

Kathleen Kelly was born on 14 July 1947 in the Central Valley of California, USA. She obtained a degree in Anthropology and History from the University of California in Santa Barbara. She was a real estate broker, when she met her future husband, Larry Jay Martin. A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author! Then, after doing some editing for him, she thought she’d try her own hand at writing. She moved on to become a full time writer.

Punlished since 1988, she singed her books with her married name, Kat Martin, but she also used two pseudonyms: Kathy Lawrence for a book incollaboration with her husband Larry Jay Martin, and Kasey Marx for her first contemporary romances. The New York Times bestselling writer, among her many awards, has won the prestigious RT Book Review Magazine Career Achievement Award. To date, Kat has over eleven million copies of her books in print. She has been published in seventeen foreign countries, including England, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Bulgaria, China, and Korea.

Currently residing with her husband, a Western-writer and photographer, in Missoula, Montana, USA. But when they are not writing, they also enjoy skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe.

“I’ve always loved books. I was an avid reader, with any number of my own stories rolling around in my head. Writing them down seemed a logical step.”

“I love anything old,” Kat says. “I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It’s fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era.”  (from Goodreads profile)

Author Links

Website: http://www.katbooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/49381.Kat_Martin

Twitter: luvromance

Check out my review of Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon #4)

Review of Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon) by Kat Martin

Against the Storm book cover

Purchase from Amazon: Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon)

Against the Storm by Kat Martin

Book Description 

Redheads like Maggie O’Connell are nothing but trouble. But Trace Rawlins, a former army ranger turned private investigator, takes the case anyway. After all, he knows a thing or two about women.

Trace can sense that something is wrong—Maggie isn’t telling him everything. If these menacing calls and messages are real, why won’t the police help her? And if they aren’t real, what is she hiding?

As Trace digs deeper to find the source of Maggie’s threats, he discovers a secret that no one was meant to uncover. And the only puzzle left to be solved is whether the danger comes from an unknown stalker…or from the woman he’s trying his hardest not to fall for.

Book Review

Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon) is the fourth book in Kat Martin’s series. However, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The story centers on Maggie O’Connell, a well-known photographer in Houston, TX. Recently, she has become the target of a stalker who leaves messages on her answering machine and car windshield, promising they will be together soon. She’s gone to the local police for help, but, because of a false accusation she made to police while in high school, they are reluctant to believe her story.

Maggie seeks out Trace Rawlins, former Army Ranger, now owner of his own Security company. Everyone knows that Trace has a weakness for redheads, but he painfully acknowledges that his prior relationships with them have only led to heartbreak. Unfortunately, Trace knows he’s in trouble as soon as he sees Maggie:

“His gaze ran over her, the smooth skin and stubborn jaw, the big green, troubled eyes, the red hair curling softly around her shoulders.” 

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His initial reaction is to turn her away, yet he feels compelled to help her.  All he asks is that Maggie be completely honest in telling him about her past and current life. Honesty is extremely important to Trace since he now has trust issues because of his ex-wife.

However, Maggie has secrets that she doesn’t want revealed. She decides not to fully confide in Trace because of her embarrassment over certain past events. Besides, she justifies to herself, these secrets aren’t connected to the search for the stalker anyway, right? Wrong, her secrets are relevant to the investigation, and she underestimates Trace’s skills in discovering what she’s been hiding. When Trace discovers that Maggie has lied by omission, he angrily drops her as his client.

Of course, with the ongoing stalker drama, Maggie continues to turn to Trace for help. Not only is he one of the few who believes she is in danger, but Maggie cannot resist his charm and good looks:

“He grinned, a flash of white in a suntanned face so handsome it made her breath catch. An amazing face, she thought, with those hard, sculpted features and intense, whiskey-brown eyes, so warm and direct they sent a little quiver into her stomach.” 

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 Their intense attraction for each other and sexual chemistry draw them closer together, leading to a sizzling romance that had me rooting for them

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even with all of the angst involved.

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Both characters have issues with commitment, they continuously deny their growing feelings for each other, and they expect the relationship to end once the mystery is solved. Furthermore, Maggie makes poor decisions against Trace’s advice that make her vulnerable to danger and cause ongoing frustration for Trace. Can they take their relationship further than sex?  This is one of several established conflicts that build suspense in the search for the elusive stalker.

The search for the culprit is not as straightforward as expected. There are unpredictable twists to the plot that create a suspenseful, engaging story right up until its conclusion.  And right when you think the story has reached its resolution, more of the unexpected happens.

As a Texas transplant, I appreciated Martin’s understanding and portrayal of the idiosyncrasies of Texan culture. Yep, Trace is most definitely a Texas cowboy. In addition, the supporting characters enhance the complexity of the story, and most of them are dynamic, rather than static, as sometimes found in other novels.  The book is well-written and ties together all of the side stories by the end.

I look forward to reading other books in this series.

Rating: 

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Click on this link to View the Book Trailer and an Excerpt from the Book

About Kat Martin

Kat Martin Website

Goodreads Profile

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Joe Diffie: “Pick Up Man”

Maggie spends a lot of time in Galveston, TX, taking pictures of nature. She and Trace visit several times.

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Glen Campbell: “Galveston”

*****

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Chicken Fried Steak (A Texas Staple)

Chicken fried steak and gravy

Click on the link below to watch a video on how to  make chicken-fried steak with a creamy pan gravy: From All Recipes.com

http://allrecipes.com/video/2802/the-best-chicken-fried-steak/detail.aspx?prop24=RD_VideoTipsTricks

*****

group discsussion 5If you have read any of Kat Martin’s books, please click on the green Leave a Comment link and let me know which ones are your favorites and why.