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Steven James’ Checkmate


In Checkmate, critically acclaimed novelist Steven James offers a climactic chapter in his bestselling series, the Bowers Files.

When a clandestine FBI facility is attacked, Special Agent Patrick Bowers is drawn into the vicious, ruthless story that a killer from his past is bent on telling the world.

Clues lead to long-forgotten secrets buried deep beneath Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Now Bowers is caught up in trying to stop one of the deadliest attacks ever planned on American soil.

Smart, tense, and full of mind-bending twists and turns, Checkmate explodes onto the scene, bringing this cycle of the Bowers Files to an unforgettable conclusion


I’m a huge Patrick Bowers fan. I have read every novel in this series, so of course I couldn’t miss out on this one! And that’s saying something, folks, because I like my mysteries with a heavy dose of romance and while Patrick Bowers has a little romance, it is in no way, my usual fare. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Patrick. Patrick is a great detective and I would say that he really drives the series. I love being in his head, watching him take in small details, and interact with his family. After almost ten books, he feels like an old friend.

Tessa. Patrick’s daughter. She always manages to add something extra to the story. I will say, how nice that she is unusually brilliant in only the most of helpful ways, but I like Tessa.

The mystery. This novel really brings things full circle. Patrick’s been chasing the bad guys in this book almost the entire series, so just like Patrick is familiar so are these guys. But I still enjoyed watching Patrick unravel what was going on. Mr. James’ mysteries are always so well thought out and I never feel like Patrick stumbles across clues. He actually does detective work! I will say some of the crimes are sad and a bit gruesome, but Patrick chases serial killers, so…..

Spiritually, the Bower novels are not your usual straight up Christian fiction, but the point of his novels seems to be that all me are capable of evil, but God keeps us from going down that route.

What I didn’t like:

At times it felt like Patrick was always trying to teach me something. His internal monologue could often turn into a lecture, and I may have skimmed over that so that I could get back to the mystery.

Romance scale: 5

Overall, very enjoyable and you won’t want to put it down.

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Elizabeth Camden’s Beyond All Dreams


Sweeping and Romantic Historical Drama from an Award-Winning Author

Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves?


I happen to think that Ms. Camden writes some lovely romance in her novels, so of course I always read her books. Here’s my thoughts on this one:

What I liked:

Anna O’Brien. She’s no schoolgirl, she’s super smart, she’s tenacious, and she works at a job that few women of her day would ever consider working at (shoutout to librarians!). Anna has an interesting back story and I really liked how her job is a direct product of that.

Luke Callahan. Another wonderful heroic creation of Ms. Camden. I just love how none of her heroes are the same and all of them come across as very different people. Luke has his own ticks that are interesting and his own backstory that is unique. Sometimes he wasn’t always predictable even as he tried so hard to be, and I liked that.

The mystery of the ship. Wow. I definitely wanted to know what happened and it’s slightly based off of true events folks.

The chemistry. There is some really great chemistry between Luke and Anna. I love how their relationship develops and you can really see them falling for each other.

The premise and/or setting. I knew next to nothing about Congress in the late 1800s particularly as it concerns problems with Cuba. I learned so much and in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was learning.

Spiritually, there is a theme of forgiveness and how if you don’t forgive you can grow to become quite bitter. Unforgiveness will change who you are.

What I didn’t like:

The romance. Only in the sense that it felt unnecessarily drawn out to me. All I could think was that the two of you want to be together so why are we trying to create problems?

Something about this novel made it seem like it just mozied along. The writing was fantastic, I read this book in a day, but it  still felt kind of slow paced.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, I will be honest and say it’s not my favorite of her novels, but still a really good read.

**I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings….Topics That Turn Me Off

Do you ever read the blurb for a book and then decide that’s not for me? Even if you love the author? Or if you’ve heard good things about the author? I do, all the time. Even though, many, many times if I eventually read the book I may love it. Here are some topics I generally avoid (even though there are exceptions to all of them).

1. Widowed people with kids. I know this one sounds strange, but rarely do I find children endearing in books. They can be, absolutely (Mary Connealy’s Petticoat Ranch) but not all authors write them well, and so I’m not terribly fond of romance novels that have children in them. I will usually pass on the novel unless I hear good things about it.

2. Older couples. This is kind of sad to admit, but I think since I’m in my 20s I have a hard time relating to couples in their 40s and above. When I think of an exception, I think of Gayle Roper’s Autumn Dreams. That said, I was not excited to read this book initially.

3. People with secrets. I hate when deception is used as a trope. Rarely, and I do mean rarely do I like books when the main character is hiding something, with the exception of Tamera Alexander’s Beyond This Moment.

4. Animals. Dogs should not have leading roles in books. That is all.

5. Love triangles. Why? How many people in this world actually have two wonderful men fall in love with them at the same time?

6. Silliness. You know, the couple playing games, or someone who is supposed to be on the run for their life but they have a pig and a kid and some other craziness coming with them. No….just no. If it’s obvious from the blurb that things are going to get silly I walk away. Silliness is different than humor. I love humor. And to be honest I don’t like serious realistic fiction, but silliness makes me feel like the author thinks I’m stupid.

7. Amish. Yes, I read the occasional Amish novel, and there are some good ones! But people, I just can’t get with it. Most authors, when they write about the Amish, all I can think is how strange the Amish are for allowing a group of people with interesting rules decide what they can and can not do.

8. Adultery. Particularly if the main character is committing adultery. I have to be able to trust my main character, and adultery just kills that trust.

So, here’s my list (I’m sure it’s not complete) of books I pass over when I see what they’re about. Even though there are tons of exceptions to these rules. What topics make you pass over books?