Blood Ties – review

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Blood Ties by Tracy Krauss



My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In Blood Ties, Book 2 of Tracy Krauss’s Three Strand Cord series, we again get involved in the lives of Stella, Tempest, and Cherise.

College-educated Stella returns to her ranch home in Texas to find both ranch-hand brothers in love with her.

Dirk, Cherise’s brother, falls for Tempest but when she doesn’t reciprocate, this rich sometime-playboy decides to volunteer at a Mexican orphanage (maybe this new leaf will convince Tempest that he really has changed).

Cherise, meanwhile, gets involved in a relationship with one of Stella’s friends but, unable to face hurting him due to her track-record of short-term serial romances, decides to join Dirk at the orphanage. There, confronted by the superficiality of their lifestyles the siblings, Dirk and Cherise, are challenged to look for deeper meaning and purpose.

A mean-spirited computer hacker in Texas and suspected drug activity out of the orphanage add danger and suspense to this contemporary romance.

Though some of the shenanigans of Cherise and others would put this book (and the series) into the edgy category, the message of God’s love and ability to change hearts, desires, and actions comes across loud and clear. That dual focus makes the series relatable to contemporary young people, Christian and non-Christian.

I received a copy of Blood Ties as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review.




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Three Strand Cord (review)

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Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The friendship bracelets that Stella, Cherise, and Tempest braid for each other in elementary school come to symbolize the ties that bind them long past their school days. However, when they meet again as young adults, their varied interests, experiences, social status, and temperaments have set them on vastly different paths. This makes for lots of conflict as their loyalties to each other compete with good sense, ethics, and even self-preservation.

Cherise, the rich bad girl of the trio, traps her girlfriends and others in a net of trouble when she decides to do whatever it takes to follow her latest boyfriend to Italy. Meanwhile Tempest, the professing Christian of the three, struggles with her part in Cherise’s deception, which involves living a lie of her own.

Krauss’s romantic suspense is well-written, has interesting characters, lots of action, many surprises, and Christian spiritual elements throughout.

I received a copy of Three Strand Cord from the author for the purpose of writing a review.




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Without Proof (review)

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Without Proof (Redemption's Edge, #3)Without Proof by Janet Sketchley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two years after her fiancé Gilles died beside her in the cockpit of the plane he crash-landed on a Nova Scotia highway, Amy Silver is getting back on her feet emotionally and physically. She has even taken off the gold chain that held Gilles’ engagement ring. Then comes the day reporter Troy Hicks makes an unwelcome appearance at the Stratton Art Gallery where Amy works.

He is full of questions. Despite that the police investigation concluded the crash was an accident, is Amy sure? He’s heard rumors of foul play. Will she help him dig deeper?

Troy’s snooping around followed by his article in the paper starts a series of events that make Amy more suspicious than ever that the plane malfunction of that awful day was no mishap after all. But should she try to prove it? At what price?

Gilles’ good friend, artist Michael Stratton now Amy’s boss at the gallery, begins acting strangely too—protective, even possessive. Trouble is, she has begun to fall for him. So what do his actions mean? They’re probably loyalty to Gilles, big-brotherly care, or even emotional instability—surely not a sign of the deepening relationship she hardly lets herself dream about.

In Without Proof, the final book in the three-book Redemption’s Edge romantic suspense series, author Janet Sketchley introduces threats, danger, and mystery into the homey tranquility of Stratton Gallery, the gallery / residence Amy, Aunt Bay, and Michael share. Soon the sinister lurks behind each phone call and text message.

We view unfolding events through Amy’s eyes and wonder, is art buyer Ross Zarin the considerate gentleman he appears to be? Why is Gilles’ sister Emilie so desperate to get Amy out of the way? Is Michael’s concern for her genuine or the first sign of a stalker-in-the-making?

Without Proof addresses many important themes including fear, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. Through the unflinching Christian faith of Aunt Bay, Amy faces her own feelings of unworthiness. Through the testimony of Ruth Warner (from book 1 of the series) Amy realizes she needs to forgive her absent father. There’s also the sweet, but never cloying, romantic side of the story that had me cheering for Amy from the first page.

Sketchley’s skillful way with words kept me spellbound until the story’s last action-packed scene. Though this book ends the series, let’s hope Sketchley has some more romantic suspense brewing in her Nova Scotia study!

I received Without Proof as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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The Breath of Dawn (review)

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The Breath of Dawn by Kristen HeitzmannIn The Breath of Dawn Kristen Heitzmann has written romantic suspense with captivating characters and a plot that will keep readers in its clutches until the last page.

Female lead Quinn Reilly takes her business of estate buying and eBay trading seriously. But why is this diminutive but determined, independent, conscientious, and caring 27-year-old living alone, and apparently on the run in a doll-house-sized cabin nestled in the mountains near Juniper Falls, Colorado?

Morgan Spencer, whom we see in the prologue roaring away from his infant daughter after his wife’s funeral, has moved from his California business headquarters to the Colorado ranch. There his brother Rick, wife Noelle, and nephew Liam are helping him parent now two-year-old Livie. Morgan is caring too in a professional way as the revitalizer of failing corporations.  But when we meet him, his confusing responses show how emotionally frozen he still is after the deaths of daughter Kelsey and wife Jill.

I really enjoyed two-year-old Livie, an elfin and precocious (in a nice way) two-year-old who acted just like a compliant two-year-old would and completely won my heart (I’m a grandma, after all, with a ‘Livie’ of my own).

Quinn and Morgan meet. There is chemistry between them but the story really heats up when Markham Wilder, a bad actor from Quinn’s past, surfaces after serving jail time because of Quinn’s testimony against him. Heitzmann’s description of Wilder gave me chills:

“He felt like a reptile coming out from under a rock, blinking in the overbright sunshine, cold wind standing his short blond hair. He felt like a predator waking to thoughts of prey, to hunger and awareness. He felt shame. He felt fear. He felt vengeful and powerful.” – Kindle Location 793

Though the book is long (448 pages) the story of the growth of Quinn and Morgan’s relationship woven together with the ever-tightening noose of Quinn’s past kept me reading long into the night more than once. Heitzmann’s masterful use of language and ability to get into the skin of her characters didn’t hurt either.

In addition to spinning a captivating tale, Heitzmann addresses themes of trust (in people and God—beautifully illustrated by little Livie’s trusting qualities), family, prayer, faith and integrity.

The Breath of Dawn under the tree for the reader in your life would be a great treat!

(I received a copy of this book as a gift from the publisher–Bethany House–for the purpose of writing a review. This review first appeared on Blogcritics.com.)

Title: Breath of Dawn, The
Author: Kristen Heitzmann
Publisher: Bethany House, November 1, 2012, paperback, 448 pages.
ISBN-10: 0764210424
ISBN-13: 978-0764210426