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review 2017-02-16 13:53
Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly
Cold Memory (Extrasensory Agents) - Leslie A. A. Kelly

Mick Tanner has grown up in the carny community (not counting the few years in between living with his abusive grandfather that helped his gift of psycometry even worse), and now, as members of the community, members of his family, are falling victim of a brutal killer, there's nothing stopping him from helping the local chief of police, his childhood frenemy Gipsy Bell, to uncover the truth.

After two (almost) perfect books, this one was quite a disappointment. The premise was good, and the suspense awesome with the mystery of why the murderer was killing those he was killing, the voice in his head, his craziness, the way he killed...Unfortunately, the rest didn't contribute to the reading experience.

The pacing was slow thanks to many filler scenes that didn't lead anywhere and didn't contribute much to the story. The many characters were too many, stealing the thunder of the two leads, who actually made the romance much more believable than in the first two books, due to their past connection, but it, as everything else good in the story, was pushed to the sidelines by everything else (the plethora of characters, side-stories, and filler scenes).

I also have to admit, I could've done without Mick's story, since I never "connected" with him in the previous two books, making him my least favorite Extrasensory agent. I'm certainly looking forward to Derek's book...and Julia's too, even though I'm skeptical how someone can compare to her ghost.

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review 2017-02-14 13:52
Cold Touch by Leslie A. Kelly
COLD TOUCH: Extrasensory Agents Book 2 - Leslie A. Kelly

Twelve years ago, Olivia Wainwright was kidnapped from her bed, held for ransom and drowned. One hundred and thirty seconds she was revived by her captor’s other captive, a small, malnourished boy named Jack, and hasn’t been the same since.

In the present, a structural fire has revealed human remains, a small skeleton hidden behind a drywall for the past twelve years, and thanks to a police sketch, Olivia knows the skeleton belongs to her little savior, the boy she’s spent the past twelve years searching for.

The least she can do now, is find out what happened to him, and bring his killer to justice.

I loved this new installment in this series. A great mix of romance (still a rather quick development, but somehow it worked), drama, paranormal and thriller. Because there was no “pussy” suspense in this book, it jumped right into the thriller realm with a villain with no space left in his head (if you want to know what I mean, you’ll have to read the book, and if you're anything like me, you won’t be sorry).

This time it was the heroine that worked for the Extrasensory Agents, and what a special ability the chick had. Olivia could touch dead remains and know exactly what happened in the last two minutes and ten seconds of that person’s life. Stuff of nightmares, you’d think. And you’d be right.
Lucky for our girl, she met a man. The right man. A tough cop with a heart of gold and a weakness for this redhead with green eyes and a strange affinity to death.
And she wasn’t just lucky to meet him for her peace of mind, but for her own well-being as well.

You know what the problem with Ms. Kelly’s books is? I cannot talk/write/rant about them without revealing spoilers, so I find it really hard to gush about how much I love her books without revealing too much. And it’s tough to gush when people don’t know what you’re gushing about…

I’ll keep it brief and simple. If you like your reading material to have a lovely mix of genres (equal amount of each), great pacing (although once more not so smooth on the re-read, maybe due to some added scenes), wonderful characters, thrilling suspense, intense tension, chillingly delicious villains, amazing chemistry, tight plot lines, and twists and turns galore, this is the book for you. Despite its “predictability” (I’m not talking about page-to-page know-it-all, but the certainty of a happy ending) it was decidedly unpredictable.
I’ve grown weary of books where you can see everything that’s about to happen from a few scenes before, know the identity of the villain when he/she first makes an appearance etc. Cold Touch kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat. And that twist (not the accomplice one, because I saw that one coming!) toward the end really threw me. Was it necessary? Yes, to solve the mystery, but that could’ve been solved without that particular sacrifice. And I would’ve loved to see two happy endings instead of one, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not saying that final twist ruined the book for me, because it didn’t, it just added another layer to the whole story, I’m just saying I could’ve done happily without it. But then, we wouldn’t have an “interesting” epilogue. ;) Hopefully, we’ll see how that evolves.

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review 2017-02-13 13:51
Cold Sight by Leslie A. Kelly
COLD SIGHT: Extrasensory Agents Book 1 - Leslie A. Kelly

Granville, Georgia is plagued by a serial killer...Or is it? When reporter Lexie Nolan ran the story of several teenage girl gone missing, she was shut down, and almost lost her job, while the chief of police and all the prominent citizens claimed the missing teens were just runaways. Especially since they were from the “bad part of town”.

Well, the Ghoul, as some have dubbed the presumed serial killer, has struck again. This time kidnapping a girl from the bad part of town going to school in the good part of town. The police and the public can no longer hide from the truth...Or can they? Just to be sure, Lexie enlists the help of Aidan McConnell, a psychic investigator ran out of Savannah after a case gone bad, resulting in the death of a child. It’s tough getting him on board, but once he’s hooked, there’s no chance he won’t see this through.

But someone doesn’t want Lexie and Aidan poking around. Because something is obviously wrong in this quaint little town, something that just might put the serial killer to shame with its darkness and longevity. Because Granville reeks of dark secrets, and the serial killer just might expose them all.

Though this is categorized as romantic suspense, I’d say this is more along the lines of a thriller with some (rather strong) romantic undertones. It was dark, compelling, chilling, edgy, intriguing, a little sick (especially in that basement and clubhouse), and a lot twisted. I thought Ms. Parrish’s Black CATs trilogy was dark, but it has nothing on this book. Also, the Black CATs stories were sort of 50-50 on romance and suspense, while here the percentage was highly in favor of the suspense.

The driving force, at least for me, wasn’t the “less-exposed” romance, though it played a major role, bringing Lexie and Aidan together, binding them, creating a powerful team, it wasn’t the aforementioned two leads, it wasn’t even the twisted killer or the sick and dark “little town secret”, it was the strong, determined, unbreakable personality of the Ghoul’s latest victim, Yvonne “Vonnie” Jackson. Though a secondary character, relegated into the role of the victim, she was the glue that brought everything together, she was the catalyst for this story, and its true heart.
The reader gets to know the killer, observe her prison through her eyes, experiences everything as she experiences it, and has no choice but admire the strength of her character, her determination to get free no matter what, her stubborn refusal to let the villain win. And it is also her slight connection to Aidan that pulls him into the investigation, gets him to trust Lexie, makes him forget all his misgivings and self-doubt, and dive into the case head-on. Yes, the killer started it all by kidnapping her, but it was Vonnie that drove the story forward.
Ms. Kelly did an amazing job in creating such a realistic character and giving her the opportunity to (almost) outshine the leads. Despite everything, to me, this was more Vonnie’s story than anything else.

Not that I didn’t love the romance subplot. Far from it. The sparks between Lexie and Aidan flew from the get-go, the tension and attraction was almost palpable and it was just a matter of time before they both gave in. Their “psychic” connection gave their story a little otherworldly feel (and a little "explanation" to the rushed-in feeling, but still it retained an elusive believability. Marvelously done.
The same goes for the main suspense arc. The killer was deliciously twisted, a complete psycho with a sadistic streak a mile wide, but it was still a true pleasure to read, and the villain’s identity remained a secret until Ms. Kelly decided to reveal it, which was a nice respite from the usual suspense fare where the bad guy is obvious from the first chapter.
The “Hellfire Club” sub-sub-plot was sick and twisted as well, though the resolution was rather lacking, but maybe we haven’t seen the end of the Club just yet. Here’s hoping.

And now to the whole series stuff. Unlike many first-book-in-a-series books, this one wasn’t rife with world building and introductions of characters, but instead provided mere tidbits of the characters’ pasts and abilities, but that was enough to get to know them and whet the reader’s appetite for more. I’m already itching to read more about the EA investigative team and their abilities.

Lastly, despite the “darkness”, I don’t think this is a “mood book”, having to read it when the mood is just right. You can pick it up at any time, it’ll pull you in from the first page and won’t spit you out until the very end. Even when a scene was a bit too much to take and I wanted to put it down, I simply couldn’t. Something compelled me to keep reading, although the pacing was a bit slower on the re-read.

I also liked the short story in the end, about Aidan's first meeting Julia and getting “invited” into the Extrasensory Agents team.

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review 2017-02-11 13:53
The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
The Defiant Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

The story within a story within a story got old the first time around. This time, it was already smelly and shriveled.

Is it so hard to keep it simple? The present-time suspense would've been great in itself, the Meg-Nils and Eve-Amy storylines would've kept the pace going until they "united". But no, we had to have the Sam-Alyssa shindig, which seemed redundant and will apparently drag on in this series for quite some time, and then we had to have the grandma tell her WWII stories, and then we had to have the more recent flashbacks about Meg and Nils "relationship".

The pacing was shot to smithereens, the characters weren't that interesting to begin with (and the hero was too cocky for my taste), the romance wasn't (that) believable...And I was bored before the half mark.

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review 2017-02-11 13:50
Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose
Every Dark Corner (The Cincinnati Series) - Karen Rose

A week after being shot in Alone in the Dark, and after three years spent deep undercover in a drug- and human-trafficking ring, Special Agent Griffin "Decker" Davenport, wakes up from a medically induced come, determined to tell someone the last important information he'd heard before his cover was blown. That someone happens to be Special Agent Kate Coppola, who's spent the week by his side, listening to his tapes, talking to him, and knitting.

But someone doesn't want Decker to wake up and spilling secrets, despite not knowing just what secrets the agent knows. As far as this shadowy figure is concerned, Davenport is just another loose ends in need of snipping, but luck, or the Amazon warrior of the female agent by his side, won't allow Decker to be snuffed so easily, and soon more and more loose ends appear.

It's up to Decker, Kate and the rest of the Cincinnati crew to tie the loose ends together, and maybe finally unravel the mystery.

Karen Rose remains one of my favorite suspense authors. Although everything happens during the span of just a few days, there's just so much going on, so many side-plots that end up tying up together in the end, propelling the main plot forward, that make the reader "loose the sense of time", making the story appear to happen during a much longer period.

This last installment in her loosely connected "main" series with old characters, or loose ends popping up from time to time, is no different. Well-structured, tightly-plotted, and with a spot-on pacing that is deceptively slow while building momentum for that last desperate dash toward the finishing line, it nicely ties into the previous book, finishing off where it began, tying up those few loose ends that have been plaguing the FBI and CPD for the past week (in book time) and this reader for the past year.

The topic was still horrifyingly chilling, the dealing with the case and its ramifications, especially for the victims, but not less so for the investigators, vividly portrayed with an uncanny realism that prevented the book, despite it being fiction, from descending into sensationalism or "flowery" prose.
This topic is real, things like that do happen, and although not everybody can be saved, those few who can be do count, and the stress and toll it takes on the investigators (be it by having to watch videos that make them die inside every time they do, having to inform a grieving family of the truth, having to dig for and uncover remains, or haying to accept the fact the trail got cold and they never will have the answer or justice for the victims) should not be trivialized. In her books Ms Rose doesn't trivialize or patronize, but offers a realistic, and because of that sometimes horrifying, view of fictionalized (in terms of her books) events that could very well be real (and sometimes are, although reality has a tendency to be even more horrifyingly brutal).

I like her voice, I like her style, and I like her stories because they make you think about the world outside of your own little cushy "reality".

And yes, I like how she writes her characters. Leading and secondary ones. There's depth, there are layers, there are deep (or not so) seated issues, there are scars, and there are (dark) pasts. It's what makes her characters realistic, what makes them so similar to a person one can encounter walking down the street everyday. Yes, the characters are fictitious, but they're not superhuman, they don't have super powers, they're breakable like us. They're human.
I especially liked the humanity in our present hero, Decker. The guy was built like a Sherman tank, he was growly and grouchy, but he had a tender streak a mile wide, a strong protective instinct, and he wasn't ashamed of letting his feelings show (Diesel being right there along for the ride, and I can't wait to read his book, which will hopefully be written soon).
And, as is her uncanny ability to do, Ms Rose offered Decker the perfect heroine in the form, style, and spunky, yet vulnerable despite her better judgment, of Kate Coppola. I liked her in previous books as a supporting character, Deacon Novak's best friend, but I loved her in her own book. I loved seeing behind her tough facade to the woman she was underneath, the woman Decker brought to the forth.
And their romance, despite happening in a blink of an eye (read about the timeline above), worked. Yes, they were both starved of touch, starved for affection, but it didn't feel just physical, I could see them slowly developing feelings for one another, how those feelings deepened and grew (which isn't easy to write, judging from what I've been reading lately), but I especially liked that they didn't fight it, but accepted it and took it in stride.
Less drama, angst and "romantic" conflict leave more time for the actual plot.

Another wonderful book.

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