Tag Archives: psychological suspense

Review: Queen of Hearts, by Heather Day Gilbert

Queen of Hearts, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2024)

Her readers love her…
but one has gotten a little too attached.

Queen of Hearts is a deliciously twisty, engaging read that keeps readers guessing.

Recovering from a messy divorce and struggling to meet the deadline for the final book in her bestselling suspense series, author Alexandra Dubois receives a threatening letter from a “Highly Invested Reader.”

Determined not to give in to the demands—or to let the stalker’s escalating activity sabotage the focus she needs to finish her novel, Alex escapes to a private hideaway in the West Virginia mountains. As events make her fear the stalker has followed her, she doesn’t know who to trust.

I so enjoyed this novel. The swift-running plot. The mountain scenery—complete with a storm! The small-town characters. The clues that kept me guessing.

Alex as a first-person narrator drew me in and revealed how her autism shapes her perspective and her reactions. It’s hard to understand what look like foibles when they’re only seen externally, but in Alex’s head it all makes sense.

Writers, experienced or novice, will appreciate this book, either nodding in agreement with Alex’s observations about writing or picking up tips to help their own work.

Mostly, it’s the voice or tone of the story that leaves me refreshed like I’ve had a drink from a clear mountain spring. It’s deeper, more energetic than the author’s lighter series (Belinda Blake and Barks ‘n Beans—both of which are good too.) It feels more like her A Murder in the Mountains suspense novels.

Highly recommended for fans of clean psychological suspense, Queen of Hearts is first in a new series.

West Virginia author Heather Day Gilbert is known for her strong characters, frequent mountain settings, and stories where friendship and loyalty play a key role. From Viking historicals to cozy mysteries to suspense and romantic suspense, from clean reads to Christian fiction, her books are sure to engage readers. To find out about the author and her books, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.

[Advance review copy provided via #Netgalley. My opinions are my own.]

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Review: Plummet, by Brandilyn Collins

Plummet, by Brandilyn Collins #Christianfiction #suspensePlummet, by Brandilyn Collins (Challow Press, 2017)

Have you ever done the unthinkable for your child? Have you ever thought how far you’d go to save your son or daughter? [Kindle location 371]

Cara Westling is newly single, thanks to her abusive ex’s abandonment. A new job in a new town should let her and her 13-year-old daughter start a new life – but her boss forces her to help him cover up a death, and then the cover-ups continue.

He’s a man of influence. She knows no-one. If he blames her for the woman’s death, who would believe he’s the one responsible? Worse, who would care for her daughter?

Plummet is the newest Seatbelt Suspense® from Brandilyn Collins, and it’s a fast-paced, intense read.

Cara’s vulnerability, and her daughter Riley’s experiences with cyberbullying, increase the psychological tension, as do Cara’s occasional questions asking what we, the readers, would do in her place. Plummet is a book I didn’t want to read at bedtime or if I was feeling a bit vulnerable, myself. I’m glad I found the courage to finish it, though.

For more about award-winning author Brandilyn Collins and her books, visit brandilyncollins.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Always With You, by Elaine Stock

Always With You, by Elaine StockAlways With You, by Elaine Stock (Elk Lake Publishing, 2016)

How can a good, intelligent, person get drawn into a cult? Isabelle accepts Tyler’s mysterious “family” because he seems to love her unconditionally, and he promises to keep no secrets from her. He’s the exact opposite of her father and grandmother – at least on the surface.

And Tyler himself? His childhood was so bad, he’s convinced himself that The Faithful rescued him – and so they must be right.

Secrets are everywhere in this novel: in Isabelle’s family, in The Faithful, and in Tyler’s private life. And the past has Isabelle and Tyler in a chokehold: Isabelle, because hers is a nagging void, and Tyler, because he knows his too well. Neither can fully embrace the present – or the future – unless they make peace with their past.

Always With You is an uncomfortably believable story of two young people ensnared by a dangerous cult. It’s also a story of hearts looking for God even when they don’t know where or how to search. The beauty of it is the discovery that God draws us even when we’re lost… and that He wants to find us.

It’s a coming-of-age story, and a coming-to-faith story. As it progressed, I wondered how the author could bring us to a happy ending for Isabelle, but she did (which is not to say there won’t be scars and ongoing struggles).

Raised by atheists, misled by a cult, Isabelle finally meets a Christian who shares my favourite lines in the book:

I’ve stopped gauging my belief in Jesus based upon the things I have, or don’t have, in life. I pray because I have to. I need all the help I can get. [Kindle location 3206]

That message, and the reassurance that God is always with us, are well worth reading to find. And you’ll like Isabelle and Tyler, imperfections and all.

Author Elaine Stock writes “family drama blended with psychological suspense.” For more about the author and her novel, visit elainestock.com, where you’ll also find her popular Everyone’s Story blog.

[Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.]