Lights Out by Natalie Walters

I read an electronic version of the Advanced Reader’s Copy of Lights Out by Natalie Walters. First I would emphasize that the characters were well drawn out with strong and very different identities. The cybersleuth, Kekoa steals the show with his upbeat dialogue. Lyla is another full of life character who doesn’t pull any punches. I was a little surprised at the amount of romantic content. I chose the book to read because I thought it was a mystery. From the start, the loop back to romantic notions appears frequently. This swing in the action from modern day espionage to matters of the heart I found too much in the beginning. I hung with it and eventually warmed up to the story with greater engagement.

The main characters, Jack Hudson and Brynn Taylor, are competent professionals in the business of tracking down threats to our government and way of life. Each individual has a multilayered backstory that is 100% believable and wins you over to their side. As a CIA analyst, Brynn shows she is competent at her job. Jack Hudson, a private contractor, who specializes in identifying and resolving security threats, is surrounded by a top-notch and caring team. When they join forces, the plot thickens as there is a missing person to find amidst Brynn and Jack’s blossoming relationship. This duo went through CIA agent training eight years ago and began a relationship. But choices made at the program’s end, caused a break-up and Jack moved on with a broken heart. Now they are thrown together to find a missing Egyptian operative whose disappearance has caused alarm at all levels of homeland security. As they chase down clues, one Egyptian American contact is poisoned and murdered. Brynn narrowly escapes multiple threats with her life and only minor broken bones. Jack’s quick thinking saves her from fatal consequences.

The contemporary setting accurately portrays just how complicated things are in the area of foreign relations. It takes place in a post 9/11 World and its impact is evident. Both in the political sphere and in Brynn’s personal life. Her father, a firefighter, survived the attacks, but was injured and was unable to do his job due to the injuries. She felt the tragedy on a personal level in addition to responding to it as an American Citizen. This experience drove her to serving in the CIA and doing whatever was possible to avoid another terrorist attack in the future.

The setting is based in greater Washington DC. This part makes sense. There are just a few jumps to a setting in Egypt and a human traffickers home in Georgia that seem choppy.

The author shows she writes on an advanced level when focusing on contemporary topics with an ample dose of technology woven into the plot. There’s an implied Christian theme and the story is told with appropriate language throuhgout. It is a novel with fast paced action, likable characters, and a satisfying plot. Lights out is Book #1 in a series on Jack Hudson’s private agency dedicated to national security.

Deadly Target Book 2 Rocky Mt. Courage

This is the third book I’ve read by Elizabeth Goddard. This one delivered dramatic action in an interesting outdoor setting just like the previous novels. The characters were resilient and smart. They had multiple mysteries to solve. As you’re drawn deeper into the plot, these terrifying and near fatal events happen with greater frequency. You wonder how much more these characters can take. Elizabeth Goddard weaves a cross continent trail from sea-to-sea with a layover in Montana for some of the most dramatic action. It’s a breakneck race to the end to see the mystery solved.

The book is second in the Rocky Mountain Courage series and it flows seamlessly from book one. The story is based on the experiences of Erin Larson and Nathan Campbell, who were secondary characters in Book 1 of this series. Erin’s job as a criminal psychologist adds an interesting twist to the plot. Her sideline vocation is broadcasting a podcast on cold cases. She publishes each episode anonymously to protect herself and the identities of those involved.

I found the book well written. The roster of characters is interesting and I appreciated how you never knew for certain exactly who was 100% genuine or a fake with a hidden agenda. I received a print book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. #DeadlyTarget #RockyMountainCourage!

737990: Deadly Target #2 Deadly Target #2
By Elizabeth Goddard / Revell

Present Danger – Rocky Mountain Courage Book 1

Present Danger #1
By Elizabeth Goddard / Revell
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A mystery with great action and a sophisticated plot. Elizabeth Goddard’s Present Danger was a joy to read. It’s book #1 in her Rocky Mountain Courage series. At the story’s close, you’ll hope the release of book #2 is near. The main characters are experienced investigators working a search and rescue mission in Montana’s Gallatin National Forest. The original search mission ends positively, but the discovery of a body at the foot of a steep cliff sets in motion a new murder investigation. The veteran detectives on the case, Jack Tanner and Terra Connors, have a history together. In their youth they were a romantic couple but Jack left Terra cold for a FBI career. Terra moved on, but always carried the hurt Jack caused and never came to terms with the reasons that prompted his abrupt departure. Now with a case to solve, and plot details that put Terra in mortal danger, the couple are embroiled in solving the case, and find their feelings for one another rekindled.

A major clue to the mystery is a remote mountain cabin stocked with Native American artifacts and a remnant of a Middle Eastern tablet buried in the ground. If Terra and Jack can unravel the mystery surrounding the illegal network of trafficking these historic artifacts, they will find the guilty suspects responsible for two murders in addition to theft.

The Rocky Mountain setting adds an intense backdrop to the action. The mountain hiking required to investigate clues is both arduous and dangerous for Jack and Terra. The roster of suspicious characters expands to eventually cast doubt on Terra’s grandfather and brother. The suspicion of doubt hanging over their lives makes the investigation more personal for Terra.

Dogs and horses have great roles to play in this story. No spoilers here, but you’ll like how the author wove them into the action. Overall, readers will appreciate the intricate plot and dramatic ending with more than one surprise reveal. I received and advanced reader’s copy of from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for my honest review.

The Windsor Knot by S J Bennett

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While listening to a recent podcast, a publishing rep gushed enthusiastically over this book. In the blink of an eye, I clicked over to NetGalley and submitted my ARC request. I was pleased to receive The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett to review. Now that I’ve finished it, I understand his enthusiasm. Queen Elizabeth II and her assistant private secretary Rozie Oshodi are detectives. The Queen skillfully directs Rozie to track down clues while her majesty simultaneously carries out her royal duties. Each time Rozie reports her findings, new clues are unveiled and her task list grows. All of this is done in the background. It turns out, the Queen has been solving crimes since her coronation decades ago. At times she asks Rozie to enlist the help of Billy MacLachlan, a trusted former law enforcement officer. As she moves closer to the truth the Queen skillfully gets just enough info to the MI5 investigators to get them to see her point of view. The MI5 detectives have some of her staff high on their suspect list. They also consider a wild theory involving an unknown sleeper agent planted by Russia as valid. The Queen’s desire to prove them wrong launches her into this crime solving inquiry.

You may think the Queen is hoping to capture an art thief or a high level robber making off with the palace jewels. But it’s a murderer that must be caught. A young Russian pianist died after an evening of royal feasting and dancing at Windsor Castle. The guest list for the evening reads like a gathering of Who’s Who from Britain and Russia. Among them are a few individuals who look guilty. Due to the sordid circumstances of the young Russian’s death, a cloak of secrecy covers the investigation. Queen Elizabeth and her staff hope the solution will arrive before news of the event leaks to the tabloids.

It’s a contemporary novel with former US president Barack Obama and his wife visiting the castle. References are made to Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkle. The agendas of World Powers are called into question and the plot involves a good dose of international intrigue. You’ll have fun reading the uniquely British terms like bespoke and brio and deciphering the acronyms HRM and MBE. (Her Royal Majesty and Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s husband adds a touch of humor to the story. Their dialogue and his remarks are upbeat and quirky.

This book is due out on March 9, 2021. It’s available now as a pre-order. As stated at the opening, I read an advanced reader’s copy of this book supplied by NetGalley. I was under no obligation to publish a positive review. #TheWindsorKnot, #NetGalley