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

Book Cover

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

top of the mountain copy40

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”

*****

smiley face reading book

Start Reading the Tracer Series Now

Book 1: Untraceable

Untraceable Book Cover

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 of A Marked Man by Stella Cameron

Book Cover

Purchase on Amazon: A Marked Man

A Marked Man by Stella Cameron

Book Description

Once accused
When Max Savage opens his practice in a remote, seductively beautiful bayou town, he hopes it’s the start of a new life. He’s got his reputation as a skilled surgeon, his two brothers by his side and a fresh chance. But soon Max discovers he can’t escape a past riddled with accusations of murder…or the faces of two dead women. Especially since another woman is missing, and he was the last to see her alive.

Always suspected
Annie Duhon knows all about nightmares that shatter life’s dreams and the need to escape the past. But her fascination with Max grows, even when disturbing rumors start to surface and her darkest visions seem to play out in living color. Can she trust Max with her secrets and her deepest desires? Or is he the specter she sees when she sleeps—a killer stalking women with his cleansing fire? Is she about to become his next victim?

Book Review

Suspenseful. Puzzling. Confusing. Disturbing. Those four adjectives sum up my opinion of this book.  The story is set in the rural parish of Toussaint, Louisiana. The focus of the book appears to center around Annie Duhon and Dr. Max Savage. Both characters have moved to Toussaint to escape their pasts and start new lives. Both have secrets from their past that they don’t want revealed.

Suspenseful:

Readers are first introduced to Annie.  We learn early on something traumatic has happened to her in her hometown, and residents have impugned her characte,r forcing her to leave and never return. The mystery behind what happened to her kept me interested in reading further.

Dr. Max Savage, his twin Roche, and Kelly, the oldest half-brother are establishing a posh medical clinic. The brothers have chosen to accompany Max in starting this clinic, since he was forced to leave New York  to escape his infamous reputation as a suspected killer of two women with whom he was involved. He was never convicted of the accused crimes because of lack of evidence. Max believes was set up but no idea who would want to destroy his life.   So far, no one in Toussaint knows about his past, and he plans to keep it this way.

When the story opens, Max and Annie have already met and established a friendship. Max doesn’t want to advertise this to the town because he fears whoever is after him will hurt Annie just like with his past girlfriends.  The attraction is there, but it lacks the sexual tension that really enhances a story involving romance. In fact, I don’t even know if this book should be categorized as “romance.” I’ll explain why later in this review.

Soon, suspicion points to Max as the killer. The sheriff checks into Max’s background and the truth becomes common knowledge to everyone in the parish. Even though a body hasn’t been found yet, Max becomes the number one suspect. Will anyone believe he is innocent as he claims to be, especially Annie?  Is he really guilty of murder? If not who is the real murderer? What motivates the killer to set Max up to take the fall? Max tells Annie, “Someone hates me enough to want to ruin my life. And they don’t care if other people die to make sure it happens.” 

When a woman turns up missing, suspicion points to Max as the killer. The sheriff checks into Max’s background, and his past becomes public
Even though a body hasn’t been found, Max becomes the number one suspect.

The plot involves numerous events that kept me engaged, searching for clues and answers to these questions.  Throw in Wazoo, an eccentric character who claims to have the gift of prophecy, practices hoodoo, and constantly provides cryptic clues throughout the entire story, and you have an intense and suspenseful main plot. These are the main reasons I decided to finish this book.

Puzzling and Confusing:

I found significant flaws with the plot that hindered my enjoyment. First of all the author introduces too many characters into the story. Do we really need to know about everyone in the parish?

Including all these extraneous characters just creates confusion, with too many sub-plots, some which are irrelevant. For example, do we really need to know about the conflicts among the Sheriff’s family? Is Father Cyrus’s relationship with his assistant, Madge, necessary? These sub-plots also create multiple point-of-views that can confuse readers.

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Disturbing:

Inconsistent character development was an issue for me. This mainly occurs in the two scenes involving sex. For example, Annie is depicted as shy and reserved. Yet, she becomes controlling, demanding, and angry when she initiates sex with Max. Even Max is surprised: “This was unbelievable. Where had this new wild woman come from?”  Her actions even affect the calm, gentle Max who becomes aggressive in his pursuit of her: “Oh, no you don’t,” Max said. “You want it. You asked for it and you’re going to get it because you made sure I don’t have a choice anymore.”  Did a rape just occur?

Usually cases of rape are black and white for me. If, at any point, a woman says “no” or “stop”, but the man doesn’t  then it’s rape. But in this story, it’s unclear. Annie urges Max on, never says stop, but after it’s over,  she quickly leaves Max and rushes away to take a shower. She never comes out to talk to Max afterwards.  Later, she admits to herself that she wanted to have sex with Max. The entire incident is bizarre and disturbing for me.

The second sexual encounter takes place between Max’s twin Roche and journalist Lee O’Brien. O’Brien, the local journalist, is looking for a good story. She’s heard about Max’s past, and she wants to uncover the truth. Getting close to one of the brothers is her way of doing this. When she takes a tour of the clinic with Roche, the entire scene is just downright creepy. There is such ambivalence about whether rape occurs. Roche seems intent on having sex with Lee and even becomes rough with her, but she admits she wants it, even though she’s afraid: “Her heart beat painfully but excitement wiped out any reluctance.” There are numerous types of similar quotes throughout the scene, and I just don’t know what to think. I just don’t see this book as “romantic.”

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Obviously, I have mixed feelings about the book, and it was one of those reads where I’m ambivalent about whether I liked the book.

Rating:

Sunny-icon revised 40Sunny-icon revised 40

 

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If you have read this book, what did you think?  If you choose to read it in the future, please leave me a comment of your take on the story. 

To leave a comment you can click on the green link “Leave a Comment” located after the tags at the bottom of this post.


Giveaway & Review of Fate (The Timeless Trilogy) Book 1

 

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Currently Free on Amazon: Timeless Trilogy, Book One, Fate

Fate: Timeless Trilogy, Book 1 by Tallulah Grace

Book Description

Death stalks Kris in dreams and in reality. The target of a cunning serial killer, Kris must defend her life and her love. Visions prepare her for what’s coming, but is knowledge enough to change the future? Or will demented mania claim victory over fated love?

The good things in life are coming together for Kristina Collins. She’s found her ideal home, her career is on track for mega success and the man of her dreams has finally come back into her life.

In Fate, the first installment of the Timeless Trilogy, Kris Collins discovers the benefits and risks of having precognitive visions while being stalked by a serial killer. Her friends can’t help her, the FBI can’t save her; she must save herself.

 The Timeless Trilogy heroines, Kristina, Veronica and Cassandra, each deal with paranormal abilities as they discover and rediscover eternal love

*****

Book Trailer

*****

Book Excerpt

The edge of the blade felt like ice against her skin. One breath too deep, one movement—ever so slight—would give the knife a taste of her blood. It’s a part of the nightmare, she thought, even as she felt the breath of her attacker lightly touch her face.

The nightmares that had been plaguing her for weeks warned of this moment. Images, too terrifying to be real, flashed quickly across her mind’s eye in an instant replay of her recent night terrors. Running down a long, empty hallway, filled with doorways on either side, chased by some unknown monster that knew her deepest fears. Running towards a movie, scrolling incessantly with images of those she loved most trapped in a fiery hell. Sepia-toned faces, twisted in pain, were a stark contrast to the blue, red and yellow of the flames engulfing them. The echoes of their screams filled the dark, never-ending hallway. She couldn’t look away and she couldn’t stop running; her only escape was straight ahead, towards the horror show.

So far, the nightmares ended with her sitting straight up in bed, breathing hard in a cold sweat. He hadn’t caught her yet.

The all too real feeling of cold steel pressed against her neck gave the nightmare an alternate ending. Kris tried to control her breathing so her attacker would think she slept. Her mind raced as she tried to think of a way to reach the loaded SIG waiting beneath the extra pillow beside her. She didn’t always keep a gun so handy, but recent events, including the dreams, made it a necessity.

“Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.” The familiar voice spoke the words softly in her ear.

*****

Book Review

The protagonist Kris seems to have it all: a house on the beach outside of Charleston, South Carolina, a rewarding job as a video editor, and two best friends Veronica (Roni) and Cassie who are always there for her. She also has the unusual gift of being precognitive. All of her life she has had premonitions in the form of dreams or visions of events to come. With this gift, she has the power to step in and alter the outcome of these premonitions.

As the story opens, readers learn that Kris has been having nightmarish dreams in which she is a participant. This has never happened to her before and puts her on guard. She can’t seem to shake the feeling that she is being watched. However, she dismisses these feelings even though she is being constantly observed.

Unknowingly, she has a stalker named Damien.stalkerHe is obsessed with his new “beauty” and is unable to resist the temptation to introduce himself to Kris while she is walking along the beach. Kris’s intuition tells her this man may be dangerous when she shakes his hand:

“Kris dropped his hand like it was hot. Her senses were suddenly on full alert. Trying to be casual, she turned and started walking away, more quickly than necessary. A small voice was telling her to run, but she ignored it.”

Initially, Kris tries to ignore all of the signs that she is being stalked, even when Damien moves beyond merely watching her. He begins leaving her roses on her doorstep and car, making late night phone calls telling her they will be together soon, and even breaking into her house to install video cameras, so she is constantly under his surveillance.

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The author provides Damien’s point-of-view to provide insight into his twisted mind.  However, I think the story line would have been stronger if readers weren’t given this access to his perpective. His character is a clichéd villain. He never provides any real understanding of his motives for kidnapping and killing or why he chooses Kris to become his latest “beauty.”  Although his thoughts do indicate his obsessive nature, they also contribute to the predictability of the plot.

In the midst of this drama, the author expands the story line to include a romance that ensues between Kris and her old college love, Nick. Fate has intervened through Nick buying the house next door to Kris, thus reuniting the couple.

As they meet over an initial dinner, the reason for their breakup is revealed. In the past, miscommunication caused each of them to feel betrayed by the other. Now, their honesty with each other opens the door for a potential future together. I, somewhat, expected that they would continue to keep their bitterness about the breakup to themselves, creating further conflict between them. I was pleasantly surprised that they were able to discover what really happened in the past and move beyond it, realizing that now they have been given a second chance ten years later.

The story progresses with Nick becoming more prominent in Kris’s life. As they spend more time together, it is obvious the two want to be together. my heart cant tell you no

Unfortunately, the chemistry and sexual tension that so often enhances a romance is lacking between these two. Both characters want to move slowly in the relationship to see how much has changed between them, and this may contribute to that lack of “heat” that I hoped to be present.

I really liked Kris as a heroine. She faces reality head on instead of living in denial. Once she realizes she has a stalker, she confides in Nick and doesn’t hesitate to involve the police. She also has the foresight to learn to use a gun for protection, keeping it with her at all times. I also appreciate the fact that, overall, both Kris and Nick listen to police investigator, Dylan, who is in charge of Kris’s case.

Once Dylan discovers Damien is a serial killer, he brings in the FBI. Now, even though I am by no means an expert in police procedure, I did find fault with some aspects of how the FBI handled catching this killer. One primary example of this is allowing Kris stay with her friend, Cassie, instead of going to an undisclosed safe house. Investigators are already aware that Kris has been to visit Cassie in the past, and Damien could know of Cassie’s location since he has been stalking Kris. Even though Kris does have an agent to protect her during her stay at Cassie’s, the agent stays in a guest bedroom and goes to sleep, as well, at bedtime. Damien’s profile has revealed that his MO is to kidnap victims in the middle of the night while they are asleep, so it is unbelievable to me that the agent would fail to stay awake and guard Kris.

One aspect of the book that I most enjoyed was the periodic visions that Kris experienced. They were descriptive enough to foreshadow events to come, yet also elusive enough to prevent the particulars of the plot to be exposed and keep readers in suspense as to when the events will occur and how much Kris can alter the outcome of these premonitions before they become reality.

Overall, I am glad I read the book. Another editing would have cleaned up some minor grammatical errors, but they are few and did not distract me from the reading experience. The ending seemed abrupt to me, and after such a climatic outcome, I didn’t expect to move straight into an epilogue, but the author does provide resolution.  In Fate, the author provides enough details to interest me in reading the rest of the trilogy,  with each book focusing on Roni’s and Cassie’s stories respectively.

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

Rating

Sunny-icon revised 40Sunny-icon revised 40Sunny-icon revised 40

*****

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Music to Complement the Book:

Peaches & Herb “Reunited”

 

Police “Every Breath You Take”

About the Author

Tallulah Grace is an aficionado of anything paranormal, loves to read a good thriller and creates characters that become friends. Tallulah was born and raised in a small southern town located in the foothills of the vibrant Blue Ridge Mountains. When she’s not developing characters and weaving stories, Tallulah enjoys antiquing and bead-weaving.

Personal Links

Website: http://www.tallulahgrace.com/

Blog: http://www.tallulahspeaks.com/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/TallulahSpeaks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grace.tallulah

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tallulah-Grace/e/B0054XXL36

Book Links

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054QZNRA

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/timeless-trilogy-book-one-tallulah-grace/1104729281

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/timeless-trilogy-book-one/id454533167?mt=11

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66643

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Timeless-Trilogy-Book-One-Fate/book-AGyrHX17p0yENAS0mnawxg/page1.html

*****

Consider reading the Entire Trilogy

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Purchase on Amazon:  Timeless Trilogy, Books One, Two & Three

*****

Giveaway

Tallulah will be awarding winner’s choice of a backlist eBook to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop. The more you comment, the greater your chances are of winning. Tour stops can be found by clicking on the following link: 

http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/03/virtual-super-book-blast-fate-timeless.html

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