Guest Review: Romantic Thrillers: Playing with Fire by G.J. Phoenix

 

A too-good-to-be-true job opportunity. A mystery of life and death proportions. Help sought from the most unlikely of places. All of these are what makes the beginning of a thriller. Then, person meets person, and sparks fly. You just found yourself in a romantic thriller, let the magic begin.

I think my love of romantic thrillers began when a friend gave me Iris Johansen’s Wind Dancer series. In typical romantic thriller way, it snuck up on me. Starting with a historical, Wind Dancer moved from the Italian Renaissance to Revolutionary France straight to modern times. I didn’t realize just how much I loved it until I immediately went online and tracked down the rest of Johansen’s work. By the time I finished the Eve Duncan series, I was a goner. Tess Gerritsen, JD Robb, Catherine Coulter, and so many others became staple in my TBR pile.

Most people know Gerritsen as the momma of Rizzoli and Isles. I recently read Playing with Fire, released in 2015. This book was dark, twisty, and all kinds of thrilling goodness. When Julia finds an unpublished waltz in an old book of sheet music at a sketchy antique dealer in Italy, I had no idea how dark Gerritsen was going to go.

Then Julia goes home to loving husband, Rob, and adorable toddler Lily and things got pitch black. (trigger warning: animal violence almost made me put the book to the side, but this author is usually worth it, so I kept going).

Julia plays the waltz she found, and her daughter instantly changes from a beloved doll to … well, Annabel. As she fights for herself, her family and mostly her child; Julia flies back to Italy determined to find out why the music transformed her baby into a demon. Or did it? Playing with Fire is two stories which are eventually brought together in the end. Told at the same time, is the heartbreaking story of Lorenzo and Laura, who meet and fall in love just as World War II turns their homeland into a place of nightmares. Gerritsen, a musician herself, writes about other musicians with passion, insight, and understanding that really can’t be faked. She even composed the waltz Julia found and had it recorded. You can listen to it on her website!

Both of these stories are told at a fast clip, you will get paper cuts from turning pages to keep up. Seriously, Tess Gerritsen makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the characters on a roller coaster and the next plummet will either be epic, or everyone’s going to die. The ending isn’t typical for most romance readers, but I still really enjoyed it. The combination of mystery, horror, historical, and romance is a strong one and will definitely place Playing with Fire on my favorite Gerritsen list.


About G.J. Phoenix: As a child, I got to ride the lightening and a dreamer was born. I stood on the top of the world, and traveled to the lowest point that can support life. I got to swim with dolphins and sharks, some of which were on dry land. I didn’t shoot the Sheriff but I definitely knifed the deputy–he looked at me funny. My life has taken me to many exotic places, and I was honored to meet some truly amazing people. I learned about God and religion through the stories people were kind enough to share with me, and the books I read.

The truth is, in one way or another, most of my books are based on real people, facing hellish problems, involving intriguing legends or myths, and finding solutions through the power of hope.

I’m G.J. Nice to meet you. Please spend some time and get to know me as well as my family-the characters in my books. My newest romantic thriller, God Remains, third installment of my Ethiopian Chronicles series, is due in stores before the end of the year.  Let’s see if the prince of Ethiopia can steal the heart of the queen of thieves. Cheers!

Connect with G.J. Phoenix: Website  |  Books  |  Book Trailer  | Twitter  |  Facebook


 

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Most Anticipated Books for 2016: A Podcast Four Way!

Hey everybody! It’s Judith from Binge on Books and today you better get your one-click finger ready as you listen to this very special and BONUS edition of my monthly podcast!

3 Bloggers

Joining me are three amazing book bloggers from all different corners of the book world: Vilma from Vilma’s Book Blog, Abby from Crime by the Book, and Elisabeth Lane from Cooking Up Romance! Each of us talks our three most anticipated reads of 2016 and believe me, there is a little something for everybody, from fantasy fairy-tale retellings to grisly Swedish crime fiction, from sexy magical wedding stories to campy queer mystery. A word of caution: you may have to wait more than a few months for some but only a few days for others (and at least 3 are already out! YES!). So sit back and listen in as we chat about all the gorgeous new reads that we’re dying to get out hands on!

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No time to listen but still want to stock up on great reads? Check out each blogger’s picks here:

Vilma from Vilma’s Book Blog, a site focused on Fantasy, NA, Contemporary, Suspense

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Judith from Binge on Books, a site focused on Romance, Fantasy, YA, NA
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Despite Everything (tentative title) by Roan Parrish
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Want to hear more podcasts like this? Check out Binge on Books’ Author Chat, a monthly segment where Judith sits down with some of her favorite authors and talks about anything and everything!
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Quickie Review: Body Art by Jordan C Price

Body ArtBody Art by Jordan Castillo Price

Genre: Thriller M/M Novella

Format: Kindle

Score: 8/10

Plot: Does everyone have a certain “type” they end up with…whether they want to or not? If Ray Carlucci’s ex is anything to go by, Ray likes his men gorgeous, rebellious, and chock-full of issues. But now that Ray is single again, he has a shot at a fresh start—a very fresh start, since his tattoo shop was gutted by repo men and he can fit all his belongings in the trunk of a taxi.

Ray’s shiny new chauffeur’s license lands him a job as a driver for an elderly couple on Red Wing Island. It’s a cold fall, and since the Michigan island is the summer home to snowbirds who fly south for the winter, it’s practically deserted—save for Ray’s new household and a sculptor named Anton Kopec, who works day and night twisting brambles and twine into the distorted shapes of macabre creatures. Compelling, bizarre, and somewhat disturbing…not just the sculptures, but the artist, too. Ray has a feeling Anton is just his “type.”

Despite their scorching chemistry, when a dead body is unearthed by some workers and a freak ice storm traps them all on the island, Ray can’t say for certain that his new flame isn’t capable of murder.

Review: The same holds true here as it does for all of Jordan C Price’s books: there just aren’t nearly enough words. There never are. But what it lacks in quantity, JCP more than makes up for in stellar writing and fascinating characterization. This novella starts off fast, throwing us straight into Ray’s sad and dismal world and then propels us forward at warp speed onto the isolated island where all the tense drama unfolds. Into 90 pages (there really are that many?! It reads as so much shorter! MORE WORDS), she jam packs a handful of flushed out and intriguing secondary characters, a disturbing and chilling setting, and enough tension and thrills that you’ll find yourself breathless and cursing when the end comes way too quickly. This is truly thrilling drama – there’s the dying master of the house, the unwelcoming household staff, the creepy neighbor/possible love interest, and many a dizzying plot twist to keep you guessing. The writing is incredibly nuanced for such a short read. The characters are fascinating and far deeper than you normally find in novellas. All in all, a quick, lovely read from the queen of the macabre that will leave you wanting more…so much more.

What you’ll love: extremely creepy in a way that only JCP can do with tension that ratchets higher and higher in a short amount of time; tattooed MC and tortured artist love interest with a whole lot of chemistry and some extremely hot and rather unexpected love scenes (there’s a particular car scene that will have you fanning yourself!); a fully realized cast of secondary characters; a mystery that needs solving!

What you might not like: too short, TOO SHORT; we don’t get a whole lot of Ray’s backstory or current motivations; the relationship between Ray and Anton seems to spring out of nowhere without a lot of explanation for it; a mystery that needs solving!

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Paranormal Review: A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion by Jordan C Price

sweeto-600A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Channeling Morpheus Books 6-10) by Jordan C Price

Published by: JCP Books

Format: Kindle ARC

Genre: Paranormal of the Southern Gothic Vampire variety

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 8/10

If you’re looking for a Twilight reboot, this ain’t it.

Warning to all: there be slutty vamps here!

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Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Publisher: January 8th 2013 by Hyperion

Format: ARC

Reviewed by: Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide

Dear Amy at Tripping Over Books – Thank you for writing your review because otherwise I may have never picked up this book, and I’m SO glad I did! Upon finishing Shadowlands, my first reaction was, “Okay. WHO ELSE HAS READ THIS?” I had several things I needed to discuss and I was all in a tizzy about what had just happened.

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An Interview with The Complex author, Cathy E Zaragoza

A few months ago, back when we were very new to this whole book blogging thing, I was chatting away quite obliviously one night with one of our twitter followers, Cathy Zaragoza. BTW this was all done by twitter so I may be elaborating a bit.

“Cathy,” I said in a wheedling tone. “I desperately need entries into a Jillian Dodd Dream Wedding writing contest. Can you help me out so I don’t look like a tool with no entries?”

Cathy very coolly responded with, “Oh sure, sign me up. I write a bit, I dabble. I can come up with a sweet and poignant entry for you, no problem.”

“Wait, you write?” I asked, dumbfounded because in the like 4 months we’d known each other that had somehow NEVER come up. “Huh. That’s cool. What have you written?”

And then Cathy proceeded to wow me even more by whipping out a link to her self-published novel, The Complex and then letting drop the bomb that she’s like 21 or 22 and was already hard at work on the sequel to it with ideas for the third and fourth just fomenting up there in her brain.

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