KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON is a a cozy foodie mystery, yes. Yet it goes beyond that to become a psychological cozy tackling the issue of domestic abuse thoroughly, but also in a manner that won’t distress readers of cozies and classical mysteries. This is a well written story.
Sir Joel Peterman, an actual British knight who is a bonafide gourmet chef, is mistaken for a new hire dishwasher and gets off on the wrong foot with Starli Cameron, the owner of Apple Blossoms restaurant in West Virginia.
Starli has a lot of issues. She was severely abused by her deceased husband and as the novel opens is being stalked and threatened by her police officer brother-in-law. P.O. Roland Stratton, well respected in the town, blames her for his drunken brother’s deadly car crash. Then there’s the sulking assistant chef, the scheming kitchen worker, and the cloying banker who is in love with her. There are more twists and turn and red herrings than you can shake a spatula at.
The novel captures small town business rivalries to perfection. The culinary aspects of the novel ring true. After a break in at the restaurant where the freezer has been deliberately left open, Joel knows exactly how to save the meat. I particularly liked his menu ideas and wanted to eat dinner at Apple Blossoms.
The author thrusts the reader into a whirlwind of spies and assassins, all the while delivering a well written romantc suspense novel. Personally, I like my terrorists horrific and frightening as all get out, while the hero and heroine and totally focused on and consumed by the chase. That’s simply my espionage thriller preference and doesn’t at all detract from this writer’s ability to deliver a suspenseful romance.
Natasha Kelly owns a courier service for museums with her African born brother Katir, adopted by her parents when they were missionairies. She has been engaged by the Mossad, Israel’s spy organization, to transport uncut diamonds from South Africa to Israel. However, terrorists are trying to stop all diamond shipments from reaching Israel. Natasha not only has to get the diamonds to Israel, she also has to find out who the terrorists, are and why they’ve targeted South African diamonds.
Brithis screen heartthrob Dirk Sloan happens to sit across the aisle from Natasha on her flight to South Africa. He is also staying at her hotel, and appears out of nowhere to stop an attack upon her in a dark alleyway. At that point he gives her a kiss and she has to wonder if he’s playing foot-loose-and-fancy-free with her. She’s beginning to have an attraction to him she is fighting. He seems to be able to find her at any moment. He could be working with the terrorists seeking to stop her.
David Benjamin, career Mossad agent, has feelings for Natasha. So does Dirk Sloan, and there you have the classic romance novel love-triangle. Natasha is attacked in the middle of the night at a Mossad camp in the desert. The upshot is the two men take turns sleeping on her couch to protect her. Later Natasha and Dirk travel by camel to a desert Christian abbey where they must rescue monks who have been taken hostage by the same terrorists who have been intercepting the diamonds. This romantic suspense novel has twists and turns, action, plenty of sizzle, with a deep faith element. The story continues in the next novel of the series.
VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS brings to mind the concept of “Romancing the Thriller.” This is an action-packed romantic suspense story that doesn’t slow down for a moment.
The novel opens with tension. The main character, a freckle-faced, red haired beauty named K.C. Banning receives a text message from inside the White House that she’s being set up. She’s a techno-genius who works for the government. There’s one thing for certain, the author knows his technology.
President Abe Hannan has been causing manufactured crisis after crisis. He even has an elaborate plan to declare martial law and place himself at the head of a centralized government. This would make American no longer a free and democratic nation. His minions announce to the media that K.C. has murdered the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a nation-wide manhunt for her begins. As K.C. sets off across the country to get as far away from the beltway as she can, the author’s skill shines in painting a clear picture of the beauty of rural America.
K.C.’s childhood, Christian political-blogger friend Brock Daniels sees her image on a television news program and knows exactly where she will go to hide. He’s been secretly in love with her since they were children and is determined to save her. He’s longed for her for years. With her fashion model beauty, coupled with the fact that her deceased senator father put him down in no uncertain terms, he’s always felt he wasn’t good enough for her. As these two are hunted by a corrupted FBI, special ops teams, and swat teams, I wondered how they would ever escape. Brock draws upon his deep faith and this sustains him. K.C. struggles with God, but as things get darker she begins to rely upon Him. Her fledgling faith is presented in a natural way. The author shapes a story sending both characters into what looks like will be their doom, but somehow there is hope. There is also a wonderful use of humor which lightened some of the more terrorizing moments. The novel ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger, which points to the next book in the series.
Wow, what an abfab cover. Can’t wait to get into the interview with Allyson Carter on her new romantic suspense novel, HEARTS UNDONE. How exciting!
Nike: When did you start writing for publication?
Allyson: Six years ago I started writing seriously and for publication. And why? I was snowed in with the kids and going crazy. A book idea came to me and wouldn’t let me go. I had to write it down. What drives you to write? The joy I get from writing drives me to get them on paper.
Nike: How do you get inspiration for your stories (plots, characters, etc.)?
Allyson: Everywhere. That’s pretty much where I get my ideas. It can come from a song I heard on the radio, something I read in a newspaper or even on the news.
Nike: Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?
Allyson: I just finished and sold book two in this series. It has a working title, but that might change. This book picks up with two characters from HEARTS UNDONE. Two I think no one will expect. There’s lots of danger, romance and faith. It releases July 19, 2016.
HEARTS UNDONE excerpt…
Hannah’s hair bounced as she skipped down the sidewalk with her mother. Shelby unlocked the car door. A piece of paper sat on her seat. She pulled her daughter back before she could get in.
“Stay right here, sweetie.”
Reaching in, she picked up the paper and read the words: “Keep quiet or else!” Her hands shook and her bacon burger sat in the pit of her stomach like a lead weight. Nausea made her head swim.
Approaching the car, Mark spotted the white square in Shelby’s hand. “What’s wrong, Shelby?”
Shelby coughed as a lump formed, making it difficult for her to speak. Swallowing several times, she began to feel light-headed.
“What’s the matter, Shel?”
She tried to talk and nothing would come from her lips. Shelby shook her head. He rushed to her side and took the white piece of paper from her. The note had been written with words cut out from magazines and glued to the page. At first glance it looked like a preschooler put the note together. She tightened her hold on Hannah as she glanced around. Someone got into her locked car when they were only a few feet away. Why?
“Take Hannah and move to the sidewalk.” The dominant tone to his voice forced her to focus better. She blinked to stop her mind from racing.
A Sneak Peek…
After a bitter divorce, Shelby Johnson is looking to rebuild a life for herself and her daughter, Hannah, while avoiding the thing she mistrusts most: men. Her resolve is tested, however, when her brother’s best friend, Mark, moves in across the street and her long-buried feelings for him rise to the surface. Can she open up her heart again? When someone threatens her life, she realizes that her heart isn’t the only thing on the line. She turns to the only man she feels she can trust.
Mark Daniels returns to his hometown to solve a crime committed in the military. When he gets caught up in Shelby’s troubles, he knows she needs someone to protect her, but can he be that man? Being around heragain is forcing him to face the way he feels—something he’d rather not do. When his past comes to haunt him, he vows to protect Shelby and her daughter until his last breath.
Through God’s love, Shelby and Hannah find their way into Mark’s heart. Will there be room for God too?
About the author…
Allyson writes Edgy Christian romance and suspense novels. In her books, readers will find emotionally stirring story lines, as well a compelling mixture of suspense and faith. She resides in Missouri with her loving husband and four wonderful children, and three cats. When not spending time with her family, you can find her knitting, and watching perhaps a few way too many suspense and reality television shows.
She can be found around the Internet at these places, website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can get a copy of HEARTS UNDONE on eLectio Publishing and Amazon.
I almost don’t want to call this novel a romantic suspense. I think of it as a thrilling and suspenseful love story.
Carol Mabry, Virginia’s Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, has put herself through college, built a stellar career, and raised her college sweetheart’s daughter for the past seven years. She has been led to believe country music superstar Bobby Kent could care less about the daughter he fathered. Meanwhile, Bobby doesn’t have a clue. On a surprise visit home, he arrives just in time for his daughter’s birthday party and for the first time learns he’s a father. His parents have kept the child a secret from him all these years, while accepting his extremely generous checks. They also lied to Carol, making her think he knew and had turned his back. I love country western music and thought this story scoped out and captured that environment well.
While Carol and Bobby cling to their Christian faith, work through their emotions, and embark on a path to mutual forgiveness a serial killer stalks women in Richmond. The case falls into Carol’s lap and she soon becomes the target of serial killer Richmond Red, a cunningly illusive and ritualistic killer. Suspense well written. The identity of the killer comes as a total surprise.
Part of a series, this remains a stand alone suspense novel. The main characters are fleshed out in depth and become living human beings on the page. Carol is strong, yet caring and compassionate. Just the type one would love to have as a friend. Bobby is a dreamboat, yet real. Less so for Bobby’s parents. I didn’t quite think their greed and need for control of their granddaughter’s life was adequately explained. About one fifth of the pages contain recipes, a suggested luncheon menu, excerpts and blurbs from the author’s previous novels. It was kind of overkill. I took a look at the recipes and skimmed some of the blurbs. That said, this suspense story is a very good read.
I’m so happy to have Renee Blare visit the blog today for an interview and to talk about TO SOAR ON EAGLE’S WINGS. I’m happy when an author uses a new approach or has a fresh perspective. So, I was intrigued to learn the hero of this mystery was a game warden.
The novel in a nut shell…
Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season but the trouble follows him—straight to town.
Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, and harassing phone calls, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy.
He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves to be more of a challenge than ever before…
Nike: To Soar on Eagle’s Wings centers on a game warden investigation. Tell us about that. Is this a mystery novel?
Renee: Steve Mitchell has recently moved to Timber Springs. He’s the area’s new game warden. During one of his routine sweeps in the mountains, he stumbles upon a lonely baby moose. But he finds more than he bargains for when he discovers the calf’s mama miles away, trapped in a muddy bog. Clues to her entrapment crisscross the snowy meadows, and he heads toward Timber Springs only to find the trouble has followed him home.
Like Beast of Stratton (my first book), To Soar on Eagle’s Wings is a romantic suspense with a blend of mystery. I write sweet romance, but the suspense keeps you turning the pages. Sprinkled within the book, the reader discovers—they may even be taken by surprise—an element of cryptic mystery and intrigue. I think there should always be a bit of revelation in a good tale.
Nike: I love your blogs tag line, “Rugged Christian Fiction.” How did you come up with that and what does it mean to you?
Renee: It comes from several sources actually—my writing, my home, my life. I’ll address them in order, I guess.
How is my writing rugged? I wouldn’t necessarily call my “writing” rugged, but the people, settings, or lives within them are. They or the topics aren’t polished or pretty. They’re real. I don’t use profanity, erotic, or crude connotations to show the rougher side of life, but I get the point across. You see it.
My home’s just as rugged…it’s Wyoming. Oh, we have running water and electricity, but there’s a reason I have a Subaru and Jeep. Let’s say it’s not because they’re cool or fun.
As for my life, I praise the Lord for every mountaintop and crevice on this rugged path. It hasn’t been easy. It could be much harder. I’ve been asked many times, “how can you do the things you do?” In other words, how can I accomplish everything I need to do in a day or week or month? Or overcome an obstacle and press on to the goal, given the challenges I may face at any given moment. Seizures, migraines, school, surgeries, work, writing, marketing, friendships, family, etc. The list goes on…and on. I only have one word for them. God.
Nike: Which authors have influenced you?
Renee: The biggest influence on my writing has been Rick Joyner. After I read his book, The Final Quest, I could never look at a book the same way again. That book did two things for me. Spiritual warfare was now real. A book became something more.
Other influences have been Lena Nelson Dooley, and many other ACFW writers…they’ve taught me more than I could ever repay.
Nike: Do you read exclusively in your own genre? Tell us who and what you enjoy reading.
Renee: Frank Peretti, Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, Rick Joyner, Robin Cook, Arthur Hailey…I love to read suspense, mystery, and about spiritual warfare. Most of all, I love to see it. I can do that with these authors. Give me a good historical too, and I’m happy!
Nike: What motivates you? Not only in your writing, but in life?
Renee: Well, I have to say…faith and hope…in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s what keeps me going even when I think I can’t take another step. And believe me, there are times I feel as if I can’t. Why do I write? To spread the truth of His message and offer hope to a dying world.
Nike: Where do you see yourself in five-years time?
Renee: That’s a hard question. Why? Because I don’t spend much time worrying about tomorrow. I have way too much on my plate today. I guess if I was to make a goal for five years down the road, it would be to have my series published. There are seven books planned. I have two written, one published, and one researched. I’ll start writing the third one soon. So…I have five more to write, four to research, and six more to publish in five years. What do you think?
Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing is her first love, well, after the Lord and husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar. Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, Rugged Christian Fiction and her group blog, The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction.