4 star review

Review – A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot

Merciful Death

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing antigovernment militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?

I didn’t think it was possible, but I find that I may just enjoy this series even more than the Callahan & McLane series, and that is saying something. There is something just so fantastically comforting and soothing about stepping into a world where adults are ADULTING. I know, it is weird right, but nowadays I tend to find myself doing some mental gymnastics trying to keep my head into a story about the young ones when I just want to scream at the book: “Love him?! You don’t even know him, you’re still just a child!” There is none of that here, just delightful characters who actually make sense to my brain.

This book is a continuation of the series, and while it may be possible to read it as a stand alone, I highly suggest reading at least the previous book if not even the other series too.  That is because there were inexpertly mended relationships that we get to see continue to grow and change, and that makes is really fascinating and lovely to watch. Additionally, I think the relationship between Mercy and Sheriff Truman Daly is a lovely and warm slow burning fire that deserves all the page time. Did I have my qualms in the last book? Absolutely. Did Elliot justify my faith in her capability to make me buy in? Again, absolutely.

Beyond the primary relationship though, there are a variety of other relationships to flesh out the human dynamic. Mercy’s brother, sister, and niece all got a significant amount of page time, but it was done in a way that further the overall plot well. And the plot served well to further the changing relationship dynamics. Ilona Andrews recently posted on the topic of episodic vs progressive series, that really re-framed how I am looking at series right now. And this is definitely progressive. The stakes are real and so is the character growth. None of these people are the same as when they started the first book.

Speaking of the plot, the suspense was well done, there were a couple of nice red herrings, and one major “you did NOT see that one coming” twist that made the mystery stand on its own rather than just being the vehicle to carry the romance. And as I said before, real stakes with real life type consequences.

I think there are a couple of things that have me edging this series ahead in my favoritism. One is that Mercy just barely edges out Ava in my affections. But two, the Callahan & McLane series focuses on the monsters. This one focuses more on relationships and the seething secrets in small town rural life. While I may not have any experience with monsters (which that fact does make that topic fascinating in its own way), I do have experience with the seething secrets in small, town rural life. So the Mercy series is a bit more like slipping into home.

Either way though, if you enjoy romantic suspense with slow burn romance and real life relationships with adultier adults, I cannot recommend Kendra Elliot enough.

A Merciful Truth (Mercy Kilpatrick #2)

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3.5 star review

ARC Review Spiraled by Kendra Elliot

Spiraled
by Kendra Elliot

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is third in the Mason Callahan series, and thus far, I’ve really enjoyed reading about the lives of adults, and I really like her monsters (of the human variety).

This book though, I am really struggling on how to rate it. I enjoyed it, I really couldn’t put it down, but it did frustrate the beejesus out of me.

The story starts out with a bang, literally. Agent Ava McLane is on vacation and with a friend at the mall when a mass shooting breaks out. The reader is dragged head first into the drama and suspense. And poor Mason is stuck outside waiting to find out if Ava is safe. It was an exciting start to say the least.

But then it slowed back down to the more contemplative pace that I have come to expect from Kendra Elliot, which threw me out of the story. It took me a minute to dial back down to it, but once I had, I was back into enjoyment mode. There is quite a bit of headspace time for both Ava and Mason, and the suspense was more cerebral than action oriented. And despite Ava’s vacationer status, she was very much on scene for most of the procedural parts. Following the cops and the FBI as they tracked through the clues was interesting, and I didn’t initially guess the villain, though I knew something was going on. It was pretty tricky, in a good way. And then it all blew to hell in a way I am not entirely sure I was expecting. Family is the damnedest thing isn’t it?

And then the denouement went right back to being action packed and explosive. It was a hell of an ending for the monster. But we were left with a remarkably broken Ava.

I think that may be what bothered me the most about this book. While Bridged felt like a complete book, this one feels very much like we need another book to have any sort of resolution for Ava and Mason, despite the relatively high note.

3.5 stars and somewhat reluctantly recommending it until the next book comes out.

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3.5 star review

Review- Iris Johansen’s Kendra Michaels Series

Close Your Eyes

Much like Karen Robards’ Last series, I have been holding off on reading this. Somehow I doubt the series is concluded, but it has been taunting me from my TBR stack for a while and today I got alerted to the new book being released. So I am going to go for it and hope for the best. I am not going to recap these books because that has been done to death by now. So following the blurbs I am just going to be writing my impressions.

Close Your Eyes

Goodreads Blurb:

In Close Your Eyes, The New York Times bestselling duo Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen are back with a suspenseful novel about a once-blind woman with a talent for tracking serial killers

The FBI doesn’t usually consult with music therapists to solve their cases. But Kendra Michael’s astonishing powers of observation and analysis have made her a favorite of law enforcement agencies all across the country. Blind for the first twenty years of her life, she cares little for investigative work but can’t deny her unique skill, or the results she’s been able to facilitate. Kendra learned at an early age to become hyper-aware of her surroundings, perfecting the art of picking up the most subtle audio, olfactory, and tactile cues in the world around her. Like a secret weapon, she is in high demand.

Former FBI agent Adam Lynch, known as The Puppetmaster, has weapons of his own. He’s a notorious master manipulator, skillfully handling criminals and colleagues alike to get the results he wants. Now he needs Kendra’s special brand of help, but she’s not interested until Lynch reveals that Agent Jeff Stedler—Kendra’s ex—is missing and may have run directly into the path of a serial killer. What began as a heinous murder investigation escalates into something even larger and more frightening: a multi-million dollar conspiracy to hide a secret that’s worth killing for, again and again and again.

The set up really intrigued me, I am a fan of suspense and FBI procedurals, and an extrasensory formerly blind person sounded like it would make this a paranormal without the paranormal, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed Kendra, she’s like a slightly warmer Bones (of the TV series not the book), she’s dedicated to her job, she has a best friend, and she has an interesting relationship with her mother. And, she just so happens to be super perceptive and logical. Paranormal without the paranormal indeed! Lynch was a bit harder for me to peg, but I think I may end up liking him just fine. I enjoyed the mystery part of the story while reading it, but a few days later I am mostly blank. This story is all about setting up the characters.

3.5 stars

With Open Eyes

This is an extremely short novella, and frankly, it doesn’t add much, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t worth much.

Sight Unseen

Goodreads Blurb:

A deadly multi-vehicle pile-up on San Diego’s historic Cabrillo bridge is thought of as a horrific accident–until Kendra Michaels arrives on the scene and perceives it as something much more sinister. Blind for decades and now sighted, Kendra’s unusual skill for observation is highly sought after by both the FBI and CIA. Now her amazing conclusions open up a multi-jurisdictional investigation that once again teams her with the FBI and federal agent Adam Kyle as they investigate a conspiracy so explosive that someone will kill again and again to protect it. As the killer casts a deadly web of lies, Kendra’s life hangs in the balance, as do the lives of those she holds most dear.

Now that we have the characters set up in the previous story, I found the premise and execution of this mystery much more entertaining. Lynch seems to be unfolding and he’s a rather intriguing man. But, Kendra feels a little flat and static to me. I don’t know if this was just Lynch’s development book and we will see Kendra develop more as this series progresses, or if this is JUST who Kendra is. This story ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger, both as far as the potential relationship and the villain, so I am thinking we now have a rough outline of this series’ direction, and my earlier comparison to Bones is probably even more spot on than I thought. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.

3.5 Stars


Overall, there is enough happening in this series that I will keep my eye out for the next in the series, but it isn’t necessarily something I am going to jump on either. I hate to say lackluster, but that is almost what it is. The third book is likely going to be make or break for me in this series.

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