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Elizabeth Goddard’s Never Let Go

Never Let Go (Uncommon Justice Book #1) by [Goddard, Elizabeth]

As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather’s footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago. The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.

Ex-FBI agent–and Willow’s ex-flame–Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they’ll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he’s spent much of his life trying to forget. And even if it puts Willow’s tender heart at risk.

In this fast-paced and emotional page-turner, bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard keeps the stakes high, the romantic tension sparking, and the outcome uncertain until the very end.

Review

This was my first book by Elizabeth Goddard. I just so happened to be in the mood for a good old-fashioned mystery, so I decided to give her a try. So glad I did!

What I liked

Willow and Austin. They were very uncomplicated characters. Willow is hurting and quite frankly, being hunted, but she’s very strong and resilient. She was going to solve this case with or without Austin. And yet, if Austin was willing to help, she wasn’t going to be so stubborn as to resist it.  Austin has a lot going on mentally, but I enjoyed going on the journey with him of letting it all go. Romantically, I think the best thing about them is the fact that they already dated and broke up. They already know the other person’s flaws. It just made the romance so much easier because instead of running from their issues, they were very honest and forthright with each other (though it takes a bit of time to get there).

The plot. I really liked the idea of forensic genealogy. It presents a totally different way of approaching mysteries. Even learning how their work is done was fascinating. On top of that, this story not only had a major mystery that needed to be solved, it had a mystery within a mystery, and secrets within secrets. It made for a quick read and a solid page-turner.

Relationships. In the second half of the book, Austin has to reconcile with his past and I actually found the dynamics of his family to be as interesting as the romance. I’m definitely curious about the third brother.

Wyoming. I’ve never been there. I’m not sure what it looks like, but the author really makes the area come to life. In some scenes, it almost becomes a character.

Spiritually, both characters believed in God and prayed often.

What I didn’t like

The case that Willow and Austin are solving is a cold case. Supposedly, it was so difficult to crack, the FBI couldn’t do it and neither could any other private investigators. However, once you realize how all the pieces come into play, I’m not sure the case was all that difficult…

All in all, several things were played up as very serious (and they were serious, but…) or very difficult, but once you found out what was happening, it was a bit underwhelming.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a very good, fun to read book. I’m looking forward to the rest in the series!

**I received a copy from Revell. My opinion is my own.**

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Carla Laureano’ s The Saturday Night Supper Club

The Saturday Night Supper Club by [Laureano, Carla]

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

Review

I’m definitely late to the table with this one, but when I stumbled across it and realized it was about food, chefs, Christian, and contemporary, I had to read it. My thoughts:

What I liked

The food and chef world. I love food and I love cooking channels, food documentaries, visiting James Beard Award winning restaurants and eating at Michelin starred restaurants and I really felt like Laureano managed to capture that atmosphere so nicely on the pages. There are so many wonderful descriptions of food that’s also contrasted with the long hours and the importance of reputations, etc. I really felt like the author did a good job of bringing all of it to life.

Contemporary romance. I liked Rachel and Alex. They both have an interesting background, and Rachel is career driven while Alex is more people-driven. I will admit that I’m not typically a fan of career-driven protagonists, but Rachel made sense. Even when she’s prickly, she’s relatable. Alex and Rachel had their moments of clashing, and even a slight misunderstanding (mentioned below). However, they always worked through it. Their story doesn’t rest on miscommunication, but instead on how important it is to trust.

Spiritually, both characters discuss their faith and how it has defined them. I will admit that it seemed more a characteristic than a lifestyle, but *shrugs*.

What I didn’t like

It does follow the traditional journey of having the couple “split” around the 75-80% mark of the book over something that seemed a bit…unneeded.

It’s a bit slower, especially since it’s more character driven than plot driven. I wasn’t necessarily racing to get through this book, but still every moment was enjoyable.

Overall, a very cute story. I’ve already purchased the next one!

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Elizabeth Camden’s A Desperate Hope

A Desperate Hope (An Empire State Novel Book #3) by [Camden, Elizabeth]

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she’s finally put behind her–or so she thinks. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them before it’s too late.

Review

I will admit that the little I saw of Eloise Drake in the second book in this series, did not make me want to read anymore about her. But. I really like Elizabeth Camden so I decided to give it a try. So glad I did! My thoughts:

What I liked

Eloise, ironically enough. While her past (in reference to the second book) is briefly mentioned, most of this book presents a different side to Eloise than I had seen before. As always, Camden has crafted a very smart and a very talented heroine. She definitely has her quirks, but every layer of her personality works. She could have been annoying, instead she comes off as completely relatable. I liked everything about her. And, she’s a perfect foil for Alex.

Alex. Oh, Alex. Kudos to Camden for always managing to craft unique heroes. Alex is flamboyant and charismatic, caring and yet sometimes selfish (more on that later). But the thing I loved about him the most was that he was transparent. Alex didn’t play games or have secrets. He’s very straightforward…which leads me to the romance.

Romance. I liked the romance here because a) the foundation was…interesting (I’m going to leave it at that) and b) neither character played games. They were very honest with each other. It made for a romance that worked and for one that had a solid foundation. It’s always a joy when a couple can work together instead of against each other.

The plot. There’s a pretty neat twist in there. The book went from being about one thing to being about another. Typically, I would find this frustrating, but the twist had a very nice setup that made it all work together in the end.

History. I have never thought about what it would take to move a town or why that would be a thing that would ever happen. I feel like I learned so much and more than that, found myself completely invested in these people and their problems.

Spiritually, the characters pray and often reference God.

What I didn’t like

Alex had his moments. Camden can write some heroes who drive you crazy…because they aren’t perfect and they’re not trying to be. They do not always apologize for their actions, per se (or in a way I would like). The heroine has to just kind of decide if she’s going to take the bad with the good…which I guess is completely realistic. So, take that with a grain of salt.

Romantic scale: 7.5

Overall, a lot better than I had anticipated. I just really enjoyed this book.

** I received a copy from BethanyHouse through Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**