Review: The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

When investigative reporter–and Finn’s boss’s sister–Gabby Rowley arrives, her unrelenting questions complicate an already volatile situation. Now that she’s back, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark

I received a copy of this title via the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

The Killing Tide will be available August 6, 2019. 

It’s always a disappointing thing when a book by one of your favorite authors doesn’t end up working for you. This was the case for me and The Killing Tide.

What I Liked

-I thought the actual mystery aspect of the story was well done. It was pretty well-paced and Pettrey did a good job of weaving together multiple cases.

-I liked the setting and that many of the main characters are in the Coast Guard. That’s something new I haven’t read a lot of before and I found it pretty interesting.

-I thought Pettrey did a good job with incorporating the characters’ faith in into the story. There wasn’t really any big lesson, it was just daily life and I liked that.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-Gabby drove me crazy for pretty much this whole book. The first time we meet her she narrowly escapes an attempt on her life and she ends up going to her brother so he and his Coast Guard friends can help protect her. But then she fights against the notion of needing to be  protected the whole time and continually runs away from the people who are supposed to be watching her, which I just found really annoying and selfish. And her whole defense is that she needs to chase the story because God made her passionate about it and to ask her not to do it is wrong. Um, pretty sure that’s not  how God works. She just really, really rubbed me the wrong way and pretty much ruined the book for me.

-The romance didn’t really work for me. We find out that prior to the events of this book, Gabby and Finn had started a relationship, which was cut short when Gabby moved away. They both already had strong feelings for each other when the story starts and so we miss all of the build up. I never really felt their chemistry when they’re reunited and so I never got invested in them as a couple.

-There are a lot of characters that are thrown out in the beginning. I had a really hard time keeping them straight. It took about half the book before I could start to tell them all apart. While I don’t have a problem with any of them, none of them really stood out to me as someone I would be excited to read about next.

-I think my biggest problem with the book, though, is the way that Gabby was involved in the official investigation. Let me preface this by saying Gabby is not in law enforcement, she is a reporter. Throughout the story Finn has her help him process a crime scene where there were multiple murders, she uses Coast Guard computers to do her own research on the case, she accompanies Finn while he is investigating leads and persons of interest, and she is part of debriefing sessions of multiple cases. And the reason for all this? She’s incorrigible and would just go out and investigate on her own if they didn’t include her, so might as well keep an eye on her. THIS IS NOT HOW LAW ENFORCEMENT WORKS. My brother is a police officer and I talked to him about some of these things and asked what would happen if he involved a civilian like this while working. He would be fired. I understand for the sake of fiction there are certain allowances made, but I feel this is just way too unbelievable. And this is a complaint I have about several books by this author.

Overall

Overall, The Killing Tide was just not for me. Even though the pace seemed steady and there was a lot of action, I found myself bored for most of the book. I found Gabby so unlikable that it made it hard to get through the story at times. However, everyone I know that has read this have all really loved it, so it might just be me and my mood. I do plan on reading more from Pettrey in the future and am hoping my experience with this book is just an anomaly.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

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Review: Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

Private Investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving Luke Gallagher after he disappeared. Now he’s back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal while on the brink of a biological disaster that will shake America to its core. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next target?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

I’ve really enjoyed Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series and I thought Dead Drift was a great conclusion.

While I initially didn’t really love the terrorism plot line that first appeared in book two of the series, I thought it worked really well here. It really takes center stage and I was invested it. The secondary mystery circled back to an on-going investigation from the first book and the killer of Griffin’s little sister was finally revealed. I thought the mixture of the urgency and the emotional were balanced much better here than in the previous book, which was probably my least favorite of the series.

I really liked Luke. I was excited for him to finally take a central role and he didn’t disappoint. I would’ve loved to hear a little more of his time away, but I thought the reasons for his disappearance and silence for seven years was well explained, as well as how he felt about it. I liked Kate more than I thought I would, but she’s definitely not my favorite female lead of the series. I loved seeing the whole gang all together. They are a very likable group and I will miss reading about them.

I only have two real complaints. I didn’t like that we didn’t get very much time with Parker and Avery at all. All the other characters got a good amount of page time, but I didn’t feel like they were very present which disappointed me because they’re my favorite couple of the series. I also didn’t like that there’s a really big moment in the conclusion of the terrorism plot line that was just mentioned after the fact instead of being able to experience it with the characters. I thought Pettrey did a really good job with the all the action scenes up to that point and would have liked to have seen that important moment.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dead Drift. I thought the mysteries were intriguing and I really liked getting Luke’s POV. As always, I thought Pettrey did a good job with the Christian elements of the story. It’s never preachy, but just an organic part of the characters’ lives. I’m really going to miss these characters and look forward to the author’s next series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Blind Spot will be available October 3, 2017.

I’m a fan of Dani Pettrey and have really enjoyed the Chesapeake Valor series. I’m disappointed to say that this installment, while still a good read, did not live up to my expectations.

It took me a really long time to get into the story. In the previous book, Still Life, there is a subplot with Declan and a potential terrorist attack that I didn’t really like. That subplot becomes the main focus of this book, along with Declan and his romantic interest Tanner, so I think I started off the book a little biased. It took me until over half way through to really start enjoying it. There were a few well done suspenseful moments thrown in, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the book that I really felt the urgency.

It also took me a little while to get on board the Declan and Tanner ship. I did like Declan pretty early on, but I thought Tanner could be a little condescending. There’s also a reveal about Tanner’s big secret, shameful past that greatly annoyed me. There was absolutely nothing for her to be ashamed of and I thought it was kind of disrespectful to the real life people in that position. Tanner did eventually grow on me, though, and I was happy when her relationship with Declan finally progressed. I also liked how their faith was effortlessly written into the story. I didn’t think there was any “big lesson” they had to learn, but their Christian faith was evident in who they were and I liked that.

We also get Griffin’s POV with the second major storyline, the murder of a friend/mentor of the group. I have to say that I was incredibly bored with this storyline. With the terrorism plot, this one just didn’t really seem to matter. I thought that the answers came way too easily, too. And as with the previous book, I don’t understand how all these people are able to share details of official investigations. And how does Griffin have any jurisdiction to pursue someone out of the country? I also thought it was odd that Tanner, who is a crisis counselor, gets to be Declan’s partner once they’re done with her connection to a potential witness. I feel like you have to overlook a lot when it comes to the crime solving in this series.

We get one other person’s POV and it was the one I most enjoyed. We finally get some answers (though vague) on the missing Luke. I had some issues with the way different members of the group reacted to his reappearance, but I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from. I just hope they get over it quickly in the next book.

Overall, I thought Blind Spot was Pettrey’s most ambitious book yet. I can appreciate the effort to elevate the central mystery to a national threat and not just something that affects someone in the group of friends, but it just fell a little short for me. I had a hard time getting into the story and while I did like Declan and Tanner eventually, I did not enjoy them as much as I did the central couples of the previous books. I did really like the appearance of Luke, though, and am really looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

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I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Cold Shot will be available February 2, 2016.

I enjoyed Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series so when I saw she was starting a new series I definitely wanted to check it out. I’m very happy to report that I liked the start of this Chesapeake Valor series even more!

I have to say that one of the reasons I liked it so much is that it reminded me a little bit of the tv show Bones, which I loved during it’s early years. Griffin is a former sniper (like Booth) and Finley is a forensic anthropologist (like Temperence, aka “Bones”). When Griffin comes across remains in Gettysburg he calls upon Finley’s expertise when he suspects the body has been more recently killed than he expected. To assist in the investigation they bring in Griffin’s childhood friends Declan, an FBI agent, and Parker, a crime scene investigator (though Parker is no longer really a friend), Parker’s assistant Avery, and later their other old friend, Kate.

I liked the characters in the story a lot. Though the story mostly focused on Griffin and Finley, we get several different perspectives and they were all pretty distinct. I liked learning some of the backstory between Griffin, Parker, Declan, and Kate and look forward to getting even more in the coming books.

I also liked the romance in the book. I thought Griffin and Finley were well matched and they complemented each other well. They both had to overcome some of their own demons before they were ready for a relationship, and they both played a role in each other’s life to help them come to terms with the past and with God. I also liked the developing relationship between Parker and Avery. The one thing I didn’t like about the romance was that there was just a little too much of the “He/She’s so beautiful/kind/strong/special, but I’m not ready/don’t deserve him/her” inner-monologues going on for my taste. That’s not to say the romance wasn’t sweet, because it was, it’s just a problem I have with a lot of romances.

I thought the suspense was done pretty well, as there were several life-endangering situations and the plot moved along fairly quickly. The main mystery was just ok for me, though. There was a twist that kind of came out of left field and while it did work, it slightly annoyed me. It always makes me feel like I’ve wasted time trying to figure things out when the answer doesn’t even become a possibility until late in the game.

I really liked the way that Pettrey wove in issues of faith with the story. There’s an overall message of forgiveness and trusting in God’s presence that was very well done. Prayers and discussions on the subject were organic with the characters and it never felt like you were being “preached” to, so I think that even those who aren’t Christians would still enjoy the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cold Shot. I really liked the well-developed characters, the thoughtful way their faith played into the story, and the suspense. While I enjoyed Pettrey’s previous series, I think her writing has greatly improved with each new book and I think this one is her best yet. I look forward to spending more time with these characters when the series continues.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Trapped by Irene Hannon – 2 stars (out of 5)

Trapped (Private Justice, #2)

I received a copy of this title for review from NetGalley.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

When librarian Laura Griffin’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous–it’s deadly.

Chilling and at times terrifying, “Trapped” is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

I’ve read a couple books by Irene Hannon and found them to be a good blend of suspense, romance, and faith. I was expecting to enjoy Trapped just as much, but found it a little underwhelming.

Let’s start with the suspense angle. There wasn’t much. I felt like the whole book was pretty predictable. There was one thing that surprised me and it wasn’t that much of a surprise. The pace was slow and there really wasn’t a whole lot going on for most of the book. However, the last few chapters ratcheted up the action and made it enjoyable.

The romance was a little lacking for me, as well. It followed the “insta-love” formula that seems to be so popular, but I rarely appreciate. The main characters, Laura and Dev, are likable, but pretty boring. There was nothing that interesting about them that would justify the instant attraction and affection other than both being attractive.

I would’ve liked to see the secondary characters developed a little more. Darcy, the teenage runaway/kidnap victim, wasn’t much more than a cliché. Dev’s PI partners, Cal and Connor, were both likable, but rarely seen. Since this is the second book in the Private Justice series, I gathered the first book was about Cal, so readers should’ve been already acquainted with him. The next book in the series I would assume will be about Connor, so he’ll be more fully developed in that book. My biggest complaint about this type of series – where each book is focused on a different character – is that it seems like an excuse to only develop one set of characters at a time. And then when you like those characters, they’re pushed to the background in the next book and almost forgotten. This complaint is one for the genre, though, and not just this particular book.

One character that I really found interesting, however, was Mark. I felt like he was the most developed of the book and some of the best moments of the story were with him. Even though he’s the villain of the story, he was a sympathetic character that I really felt sorry for.

The faith of the characters in the story sets it apart from your normal romantic suspense. Hannon does a pretty good job of letting Laura’s faith define her character and it never seems like it’s a reach when she prays or talks about God. However, it seems to be a much less central theme in the story than the other books I’ve read by Hannon and I would’ve liked to see more of Darcy and Dev’s spiritual growth.

Overall, this book was just ok for me. It moved much too slow for me to be suspenseful and it felt like it was way too long. Fans of Hannon may still find it enjoyable, but I would direct readers unfamiliar with her work to pick up Fatal Judgment or Against All Odds.