Review: Aya: Ceres Vol 1 by Yuu Watase

 

Title:  Aya: Ceres Vol 1

Author: Yuu Watase

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Aya and her twin brother Aki thought they were going to a celebration of their sixteenth birthday at their grandfather’s home, but the funeral-like atmosphere tips them off that something’s not right. Their "birthday present" turns out to be a mummified hand–the power of which forces an awakening within Aya, and painful wounds all over Aki’s body! Grandfather Mikage announces that Aki will be heir to the Mikage fortune, and Aya must die! But Aya has allies in the athletic cook and martial artist Yûhi, and the attractive, mysterious Tôya. But can even two handsome and resourceful guys save Aya when it’s her own power that’s out of control?


Review:

Okay, I have a confession to make.  Yuu Watase is like crack for me.  She has a gift when it comes to writing angsty, action-packed series, and I just gobble her stuff up.  It’s a mix of cotton candy, corn dogs, and French fries.  That’s a lot of junk food, but it is so tasty and filling that it’s hard to resist.  And yes, I just compared Yuu Watase’s writing to carnival junk food.  That’s okay, though, because I love carnival junk food!

Aya and her twin brother Aki are turning 16.  Instead of hanging out with their friends as they had planned, their parents demand that they accompany them to their grandfather’s house.  Once there, they discover all of their relatives, somberly awaiting their arrival.  To cap off the really, really weird day, Aya and Aki are given a box to open.  inside the box is a mummified hand, and once they see it, their lives will never be the same again.

Aki collapses in a pool of blood, shredded by some magical force unleashed by the mummified hand. A power awakens within Aya, and she discovers that she’s the descendant of a celestial maiden, and now her family wants her dead!  With her entire family out to kill her, who can she trust?  The Mikage family bodyguard, Toya?  Or the martial artist chef Yuhi?  Who is going to save Aya from her family, and who is going to save her from the destructive power she can’t control?

I love this story!  I have seen the anime, but I haven’t read the graphic novels yet.  I thought it would be fun to read them all, and blog about them as I do.  Hopefully you will be inspired to read them yourself, or watch the anime, which is still one of my favorites.  When it came out, it received some flak, mainly because Aya can be irritating, especially when she gets herself in to trouble, and then has to have one of the guys come and save her.  While I prefer a more self-reliant heroine, I love how Watase brought the legend of the celestial maidens to life in Ceres.  Add in her detailed artwork with her delicate linework, and mixing in a dash of humor to the horror and action elements, and you have an engaging, fast-paced story full of mystery and weird supernatural powers.f

This first volume introduces the major characters, and sets the tone for the rest of the series.  Ceres is the story of a powerful family, and the dark secret they have been hiding for centuries. It is also the story of Aya’s coming of age.  She is a spoiled and overindulged teenager, who thinks life is one big party at the local karaoke place.  She hasn’t had many responsibilities, and she’s never had to really do things for herself.   Now that she’s lost the shelter of her family, she’s forced to deal with her mother’s betrayal, and somehow keep herself alive.  Suzumi and her brother-in-law Yuhi come to her rescue, and now Aya must navigate  treacherous waters as she tries to decide who she can trust.  If she’s wrong, she’s going to end up dead, and nothing’s she learned in high school has prepared her for this nightmare. The cliffhanger at the end made me happy that I have the next volume, and ensured that I would be reaching for it quickly.  This is a fast-paced story with many unanswered questions that beg to be answered.  Only 13 more volumes before we get them!

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

Interview with Teri Terry, Author of Slated

Teri Terry is visiting the virtual offices this morning to chat about the first book in her SLATED series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Teri Terry] Stubborn, multi-national writer with a weird accent and a silly name who talks too much and spends too much time on the internet

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Slated?

[Teri Terry] Kyla is sixteen years old and has had her memory wiped as punishment for crimes she can no longer remember. She’s been assigned to a new family for a second chance, but people are going missing, and things aren’t what they seem: she has to figure things out before it is too late.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Teri Terry] Slated started with a dream I had, of a girl, running, terrified, on a beach, afraid to look back to see what chases her. I wrote the dream down as soon as I woke up, and the dream became the prologue to Slated. The story and characters grew from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kyla?

[Teri Terry] Complicated, strong, vulnerable

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Kyla is never without.

[Teri Terry] Her Levo: it is on her wrist and cannot be removed without risk of extreme pain and death. It stops extremes of emotions, and is a constant reminder that she was a criminal.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What will you never find in Kyla’s bedroom?

[Teri Terry] A mobile phone (they’re banned for under 21’s).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Kyla’s greatest regret?

[Teri Terry] She doesn’t know, she can’t remember! I suppose this is her greatest regret in Slated: not knowing where she came from or what she did.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Teri Terry] Reading, reading, reading! When younger I read everything I could get my hands on. I’m more selective (less patient) now, and have less time, but that is still pretty much the case.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Teri Terry] Time, time and time (is that cheating?).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Slated?

[Teri Terry] Distractor Cat. I wrote most of it in the Writing Shack in the garden, and DC likes to sit on my laptop. In fact DC is stretched out next to me in the garden right now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Teri Terry] It’s summer: I don’t wear socks in the summer! Well….ok, let me think: I recently really enjoyed Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan. I love a good ghost story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Teri Terry] It seems like I’ve always loved to read. One of my favourites was Lord of the Rings, but I was already a bookworm when I read that for the first time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Teri Terry] Read! Also a glass of wine in the garden with the Man is pretty high on the list. Going to concerts and the cricket. And, of course, hanging out on Twitter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Teri Terry] Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TeriTerryAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeriTerryWrites

Tumblr: http://teriterrywrites.tumblr.com

Website: http://teriterry.jimdo.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

About the book:

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

Interview with Misty Dietz, Author of Come Hell or High Desire and Giveaway!

Please welcome Misty Dietz to the virtual offices! Misty dropped by to chat about her recent release Come Hell or High Desire.

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Misty! Thank you for joining us today.

[Misty Dietz] Thanks so much to Julie for hosting me today on MMC! Super excited to be here! :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Misty Dietz] Oh yikes. Empathetic, optimistic, cheerleader, peace-keeper, detail-oriented, yet non-linear. Wear my emotions on my sleeve.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Come Hell or High Desire?

[Misty Dietz] Come Hell or High Desire is, at heart, a story about redemption. In their dangerous quest to find a missing woman, the scarred hero and heroine learn to forgive themselves, move beyond the past, and believe they’re worthy of love, trust, and scorching desire.

Sloane projects a very different aura on the outside than she actually feels. She’s tormented by guilt, and while she’s managed to be successful at her career, she feels an inner desperation to atone that has her making decisions that aren’t always the best for her. She doesn’t let too many people dig beneath her put-together façade. Then she meets Zack…

Zack tells himself he doesn’t give a shit what people think, but it’s a lie. His crushing guilt makes his walls steep. But being a protector is hard-wired into his genes just as dominantly as his broad shoulders and sexy green eyes, so when the woman he can’t stop thinking about finds herself in the cross-hairs of a dangerous web of deceit, he doesn’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to save her.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Misty Dietz] COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE was born when I learned about the extra sensory perception called psychometry, which is the ability to touch an object and know its back story. I’d never heard of that and was completely intrigued. It’s like the person “reading” the object gets echoes of the life force that last touched it. Fascinating right?

Inspiration also came from several other sources: the Red River which is one block from my house and the border line between North Dakota and Minnesota; my heroine’s boutique Skinny Dipping was fashioned after a local Fargo, ND, shop called O’Day Cache; and finally, I drew inspiration for Zack, my hero, from three men whom I love the most: my hubby (Zack’s calm and protective nature), my brother (Zack’s introspection and fearlessness), and my first love—my dad—who is a construction entrepreneur (Zack’s like-a-rock steadiness and down-in-the-trenches work ethic). Sloane was born complete and perfectly imperfect ready-made in my mind. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Sloane?

[Misty Dietz] Empathetic, unpretentious, sexy.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Zack had a theme song, what would it be?

[Misty Dietz] Lonely No More by Rob Thomas **swoon**

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Sloane is never without.

[Misty Dietz] Her dragonfly cadet hat. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things will you never find in Zack’s bathroom?

[Misty Dietz] Hair gel, liquid soap of any kind, or a hand mirror.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Sloane’s greatest regret?

[Misty Dietz] Not solving a crime before it took a deadly turn.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Misty Dietz] Being outside in nature, music, and reading other stories.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Misty Dietz] A big glass of water, a comfortable chair, and (in winter) my electric lap blanket.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Misty Dietz] Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Misty Dietz] No clue. My mom says I practically came out of the womb reading. Some of the earliest pictures of me show me holding a blanket and a book. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Misty Dietz] Hang out with my hubby and kids, read, bake, kayak, paddleboard, shop, pop in on various social media sites.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Misty Dietz] I’m a total social media lover! I especially love Facebook http://facebook.com/mistydietzwriter and Twitter http://twitter.com/mistydietz but anyone can contact me via my website http://mistydietz.com as well.

Thanks again for having me! And I’d like to hear from you guys now… Which point of view do you like to read best? First person or third?

At the end of this second phase of my blog tour we’ll be drawing the name for the prize winner. When I contact the winner, I’ll explain the type of character he or she will be naming. Thank you so much for being here! xo, misty ;)

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE excerpt: 

            A quaver steamrolled through her nerves—excitement, wonder, and fear winding her up into a miasma of feeling. He backed up a step, his eyes a brand, scorching their way from her teeth worrying her lips, to the tips of her breasts, across the stubbornly rounded expanse of her stomach and curve of her hips to her sex, over the length of her legs, and back up again until his fevered eyes captured hers and turned her insides to magma.

            “God, help me, Sloane. I need you. Every beautiful square inch of you.”

            She could feel his need radiating off his body in waves that threatened to knock her to her knees. Her lips parted, but she couldn’t speak. Couldn’t move. The intensity of the feelings coursing through her rooted her to the soft rug beneath her feet. She shivered when he finally peeled the shirt over his head.

            “What’s wrong, baby?” he whispered, frowning, not touching her but near enough that she could feel his body heat.

            “Nothing. I…” She closed her eyes and rubbed her arms, trying to find her old, confident self. When she opened them, she was staring at the black panther tattooed across his chest. It was so alive, seeming to move with every breath he took. She reached up to touch it and felt his muscles twitch. Her heart throbbed. So much emotion.

            “I need you, too.” Her words were barely audible. She didn’t move. Hesitating, he watched her for a few moments—enough time for her to realize he understood what was happening.

            Surrender.

            It was her first. A this is who and what I am when all the chips were down. A glimpse into her soul. An offering with no expectation of reciprocation. She quavered like a mouse before the lion, knowing she’d never be quite the same when Zack left her arms this time.

“A heroine to root for, a hero to die for, Misty Dietz has crafted a classic romantic suspense in the tradition of Kay Hooper. A winning debut!”
—Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Dietz brings us a fresh, interesting plot and draws readers into the entertaining story right from the start.” —RT Book Reviews

Giveaway!

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Purchase link:

About the book:

Torn between dangerous desires…

Framed for a series of brutal murders, rebel-turned-CEO Zack Goldman must go to ground. When he discovers that sexy boutique owner Sloane Swift has a shocking gift—terrifying visions that connect her to his mentor’s missing daughter—he can’t believe her refusal to help him. Nor can he believe he’s actually falling for the frustrating woman.

Their chemistry will either find its perfect equation…

Helping an accused killer ranks low on Sloane’s to-do list, no matter how hot the attraction burns between them. But putting to rest her overwhelming guilt over the missing girl’s fate proves more difficult than she ever imagined…that is, until her heart and conscience begin to align.

…or detonate everything in its path.

As the real killer locks in on Sloane, Zack will stop at nothing to keep her safe. And as they earn each other’s trust—with danger in hot pursuit—they may just lose their hearts in the process…

About the author:

Misty’s love affair with words started in middle school when she penned dark stories set in exotic locales she knew nothing about. In college, her boy-angst spilled over into disturbing reams of poetry. After grad school, real life hit, and the writing went into hibernation until she found her own happily-ever-after with an ultra linear man who is the long-suffering counter-balance to her zig-zagging tendencies. Now, she spends her days writing emotionally complex, adrenaline-fueled stories, teaching Zumba, enjoying her family and friends, and praying her children don’t come home with math homework. You may contact Misty through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Spotlight and Giveaway! To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro

Today I have a spotlight for To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro! Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of the book – open Internationally!

 

To Catch a Princess by  Caridad Pineiro

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Imprint: Ignite

About the book:

Untold wealth, a loving family, a solid career in America: the only thing Princess Tatiana lacks is the one thing she really doesn’t want—a husband. Unfortunately, her parents have just arranged her marriage to a royal from the old country. Are they kidding? It’s the twenty-first century!

Police Detective Peter Roman is a royal living incognito … and escaping a secret that has haunted his family for years. He’s been quietly in love with his best friend Prince Alexander’s sister for as long as he can remember. Little does she know that he is secretly the Grand Duke to whom she is unwillingly betrothed…

When a series of high-end jewelry heists threatens Tatiana’s exclusive charity exhibition in glamorous Monaco, the two must trap the clever jewel thief before he strikes again. In a fight for their lives, Peter’s secret identity is revealed. With danger and passion increasing to the breaking point, she must decide: catch a thief…or trust the heart of her true love.

 

Watch for Caridad’s upcoming September 2013 release, For Love or Vengeance the first in a four (4) book Reborn Series.

 

 

About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Caridad Pineiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project – to write a book for a class lending library. Bitten by the writing bug, Caridad continued with her passion for the written word and in 1999, Caridad’s first novel was released. Over a decade later, Caridad is the author of more than thirty published novels and novellas. When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista.

Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Purchase link:

GIVEAWAY!!

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Cover Shot! The Missing Colton by Loreth Anne White

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Here I am again, prepping to head off to a horse show (my last one this year where I am actually showing a horse, too).  I will keep an eye out for a cowboy as good-looking as this one.  I fear that I won’t find one.

In stores September 2013

 

A gripping Coltons of Wyoming mystery unfolds from award-winning author Loreth Anne White

The dark mystery of a Colton child’s disappearance has haunted Dead River Ranch for thirty years. Solving the crime is foreign correspondent Jagger McKnight’s last chance to put his war-ravaged past to rest. But his undercover mission leaves him the victim of an attack. And he wakes up to discover that beautiful infirmary nurse Mia Sanders believes he’s the missing Colton

Now the real danger begins. An unknown enemy has Jagger and Mia in sight. For survival and the sake of his story, he must lie to the woman he’ll do anything to protect. But when deception turns deadly, can love save them both?

Cover Shot! Pawn by Aimee Carter

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I think the cover for Pawn by Aimee Carter is visually interesting, and I like the grays and the blue.  What I really like, however, is how complicated and suspenseful the plot sounds.  Wonder if it will live up to my expectations?

In stores November 2013

YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

Previously titled Masked.

Meet Nick Andreakos From Maya Blake’s Hostage to Love and Giveaway!

Please welcome special guest Nick Andreakos, hero of Maya Blake’s Hostage To Love, to the virtual offices this morning! 

[Manga Maniac Café] So, Nick, your story is out there in the world now and anyone who hasn’t read it will be wondering from the blurb just what was going on with you and Belle that led to such a mess at the start of the book.

[Nick Andreakos] Yeah, things were messed up weren’t they? I admit freely, I took my eye off the ball on that one. But in my defence, I was pretty cut up when Belle walked away from me six months into our marriage. I believed we had a great thing going on, but I guess I was wrong.

[Manga Maniac Café] You guess? You mean you didn’t know what was going on in your own marriage?

[Nick Andreakos] *winces* Look, I’m holding my hands up right now and saying, no I didn’t. I thought what we had was solid but then I realized we had a lot of disagreements before she walked out and I had been keeping stuff bottled inside and festering that needed to be aired. But I wasn’t counting on her being kidnapped by some psycho before I got the chance to put things right.

[Manga Maniac Café] Yes, let’s talk about that. What happened in Nawaka, Africa to make this madman so fixated on Belle?

[Nick Andreakos] What happens when every man sees my Belle. She’s has a kind, generous heart and she’s the strongest, most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. But she’s mine and I’d lay down my life before I let any harm come to her.

[Manga Maniac Café] So what happens now? We’re here on Althea, your private Greek island, a breathtaking paradise. Have you found your own personal paradise with Belle yet?

[Nick Andreakos] Not quite yet. I’ve got her back to Althea, but Charles Mwana is still out there. He needs to be stopped before he dares to harm another hair on Belle’s head. I won’t rest until I put him away for good.

[Manga Maniac Café] It’s been a while since you hung up your Marine uniform. You think you’re equipped to take on a rebel leader with a small army?

[Nick Andreakos] If you read the news, you’ll know what I did to his so-called army when I rescued Belle from Nawaka. I’m hoping his learnt his lesson the first time we clashed. If he didn’t, if he’s crazy enough to try again, I say, “bring it”.

[Manga Maniac Café] Well, our readers wish you the very best of luck. And a happy ending.

[Nick Andreakos] You can count on it. My Belle deserves nothing less!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks for stopping by!

Giveaway!!

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Hostage to Love by Maya Blake

Entangled Publishing July 2013

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: July 2013

 

*On an idyllic Greek island, danger surfaces…and passion re-ignites.*

During a charity mission to a war-torn African country, Belle Jones is kidnapped by the vicious rebel leader determined to make her his. Belle’s estranged husband, Greek billionaire Nick Andreakos, stages a daring rescue, saving her from the horror.

To hide her from the obsessed kidnapper—-and to repair their broken relationship—-Nick whisks Belle away to his private island paradise. But she still won’t put up with his controlling ways…even if she’s still defenseless against their scorching-hot chemistry. With the brutal killer hot on their heels, Nick knows he must earn Belle’s trust again—-and *fast*. Even if it means risking everything. And losing his heart forever. 

Maya Blake’s Bio:

Maya Blake’s dreams of becoming a romance author began when she picked up her first romance novel at age thirteen. She eventually realised this dream in 2007 when her first romantic suspense was published. Maya lives in Kent, Southeastern England, with her husband and two kids and an endless supply of romance novels.

Review: Secrets and Sins: Gabriel by Naima Simone

 

Title: Secrets and Sins: Gabriel

Author:  Naima Simone

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Twenty years ago, Leah Bannon’s beloved Uncle Richard vanished without a trace. Leah, now a private investigator, begins to suspect it was murder. When she reopens the cold case, Gabriel Devlin—-the man she loves but can never have—-inexplicably stands in her way.
Only four people know the truth about Richard’s mysterious disappearance—-Gabriel and three childhood friends…who have all sworn to take that secret to the grave. But a hidden enemy wants those shocking secrets brought to light…even if he has to kill to make it happen.

After experiencing an unimaginable loss two years ago, Gabriel refuses to put himself through the pain of loving someone who could be gone in an instant. But as he thwarts Leah’s investigation at every turn—-both to keep his friends’ pact, and to keep her safe from danger—-the sexy PI makes it impossible for him to protect his secrets. Or his heart…


Review:

Funny story about this book.  I don’t usually read romantic suspense, and in fact would probably consider the genre one of my least favorites.  They can get so intense, as the heroine is making her best effort to solve whatever mystery she’s found herself a part of, and people usually die.  Not on the scale of, say, a zombie apocalypse or other worldwide disaster novels, but let’s face it.  Unless you believe in conspiracy theories or have an overly vivid imagination, odds are the dead aren’t going to rise from their graves any time soon.  Now, emotionally, mentally deranged killers?  They are everywhere!  Or so the news sites would have us believe, so I, for one, find suspense novels more frightening than zombie books.  There may very well be a murderer living next door!  Right?  So I go into these novels with a different mindset, and I find them scary, because, well, unhinged people are SCARY!

Leah thinks she’s got her life back on track after being shot in the line of duty and being forced to resign due to her injuries.  She’s now a PI, and while she doesn’t have a sense that she’s helping the community, or serving and protecting the public like she always dreamed she would, at least her job equals a steady paycheck.  When she receives a mysterious letter, she starts to suspect that her uncle Richard, who has been missing for 20 years, was murdered.  Determined to discover the truth, she begins investigating his disappearance, unaware that she will put the lives of everyone she loves in danger. 

While that sounds pretty intense, a murder investigation is nothing next to her complicated relationship with Gabriel.  She’s known him since she was a young girl, has been hopelessly in love with him since she was sixteen, and has watched, helplessly, as he spiraled into depression after the tragic deaths of his wife and son.  Attempting to help him pick up the scattered pieces of his life is a thankless task. Gabriel suffers from an understandable and suffocating case of survivor’s guilt.  A witness to the accident that killed his family, he was forced to watch as every devastating detail played out in front of him.  He can’t allow himself to love again, because then he will lose the last piece of his family that he’s clung to for the past two years.  He’s afraid of forgetting them, and he’s afraid of betraying them.

While Leah’s investigation into the cold case kept me engaged in the story, what I really enjoyed about Secrets and Sins: Gabriel was the interaction between the protagonists. They are both wounded, Leah because she’s lost the career she loved and Gabriel because he lost his family.  His reluctance to start a relationship with Leah was heartbreakingly convincing; he’s already lost one family and it nearly destroyed him.  What would happen if he lost Leah, a woman who isn’t content to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass her by.  She needs to be in the thick of the action, protecting not only her family and friends, but also her clients.  If she sees an injustice, she is driven to right it.  I loved that about her; I believed beyond a doubt that she would have given her life to serve the greater good when she was on the force.  That need and desire to help people is what gave her a sense of fulfillment.  After she had to retire, she felt, like Gabriel, as though she had nothing to live for.  This pair needed to get together in order to heal their broken hearts.

I don’t want to spoil the mystery behind Richard’s disappearance, other than to say that maybe Leah would have been off to have let this sleeping dog lie.  The man she loved and admired so much revealed a dark and shocking personality, one that robbed every last bit of innocence from her.  Not only was Richard hiding terrible secrets, but so were her four best friends.  These are horrid, soul-leaching secrets that changed all of them irrevocably.

After reading this book, I have to re-evaluate my perception of romantic suspense.  Yes, there were a couple of scary moments when the deranged killer almost got the better of Leah, but the pacing, characters, and romance more than made up for them.  And I’m pretty sure most of my neighbors aren’t really insane murderers.

Grade:  B, leaning to B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon