Paranormal Suspense

I’m not at all sure that “paranormal suspense” is considered a subgenre, but perhaps it should be. It’s as good a way as any to describe these two recent reads.

.

Mind Shadows is a reissue (new title, new cover) of Irresistibly Yours, the second installment in Lark Brennan’s fascinating Durand Chronicles (after Shadows in the Deep), romantic suspense with more than a touch of the paranormal.

.

When Tate Fulbright wanders into a shop in Paris, looking for an entomological collection she’d heard about from her scientist mother, she finds instead an amazing collection of taxidermied animals, as well as Adrien Durand, who seems just as amazing to a girl from Indiana, in the City of Light for a pharmaceutical convention. But despite her inexperience with the high society and wealth that Durand represents, Tate isn’t just another tourist from Indianapolis. She communicates with animals at a deep level, hears voices in her head, feels the emotions of the crowds around her, and has no idea where these abilities—or disabilities—come from.

.

Adrien Durand, head of the far-flung Durand clan and its many commercial and charitable interests, doesn’t know where Tate’s talents come from, either, and that worries him. Is she a wild talent, or someone sent to spy on the Durands by one of the other psychic clans, some shaky allies, some outright enemies. For the Durands and their counterparts fight a long and continuing battle to either protect or enslave the ordinaires of the world.

.

Adrien finds himself increasingly attracted to Tate, but his responsibilities—and his family—throw barriers between them. Tate has her doubts, too, tossed as she is into a world she never suspected and doesn’t understand. But Adrien’s world may hold the answers to the mysteries in her head, and give her a new purpose in life—if they can both survive.

.

The world of the Durands, with its wide array of psychic powers, Protectors and Dissemblers, and family connections—and secrets—going back generations, expands with each installment. If you missed this one, grab it now, and watch for more to come.

.

Ari Mason, the heroine of R.R. Born’s debut novel, May Day, is a gray witch. Born into a coven of black witches, Ari left the practice of black magic, cutting ties with much of her family. Now she tends bar by night and reads Tarot in the park by day. She volunteers for children and senior citizens, and generally keeps her distance from the magic community in her home town of Houston.

.

When her best friend, Leise (a non-magical person or dismage), has a problem with an antique amethyst pendant, Ari does her best to help, with the assistance of Remy, the Cajun ghost Ari accidentally summoned during a youthful experiment.

.

But when a series of magical murders begins, targeting both witches and dismages, Ari must act, and she must seek allies among the white witches who have no reason to trust her. For that matter, Ari doesn’t know who she can trust—some people aren’t what they seem at all.

.

May Day is a fast-paced race through the magical community of Houston, filled with interesting—and sometimes terrifying—characters. Ari’s next adventure, Day of the Dead, has just been released.

Romantic Suspense Times Two

Here are two great reads mixing mystery, suspense, and romance.

.

When Texas Ranger Samantha Goode, the heroine of Leslie Marshman’s Goode Over Evil, returns to her home town of Crystal Creek, she’s only expecting to stay a day or two for her grandmother’s funeral. She’s shed no tears for the old woman who made her childhood miserable, but her grandfather and her Uncle Joe deserve her support.

.

She knows there’s a risk of running into her old love, rancher Clayton Barnett—it’s a small town, after all. But she can deal with that. Clay doesn’t know why Sam left town without a word to him years ago, and she doesn’t intend to tell him now. Events around them make it hard to avoid one another, but will what they once had together ever return?

.

Sam’s plans to head back to El Paso as quickly as possibly change when there’s a death at her uncle’s marina. The local police chief calls it suicide, but Sam and the county sheriff know better. Whatever happened, Clay’s autistic brother, Jordan, may have witnessed it. When Sam realizes that dangers from the drug cartel she’s been fighting have followed her from El Paso to the Gulf Coast, her fears for the people she loves mount.

.

Goode Over Evil is a fast-paced roller coaster ride through small town secrets, drug smuggling, and murder, and well worth reading for fans of mystery and suspense.

.

Shadows in the Deep is a reissue (new title and cover) of Lark Brennan’s Dangerously Yours, and well worth picking up if you missed it the first time around. The first volume in the Durand Chronicles, Shadows in the Deep is a very entertaining read, but a bit difficult to categorize: romantic suspense, certainly; paranormal elements, definitely; even a touch of science fiction, all in a fascinating Caribbean island setting.

.

To outside eyes, Lex Durand is a marine biologist studying whales and dolphins. Only her close relatives in the large and powerful Durand clan know that she is an animal telepath, and that some of her study subjects have gone mysteriously missing.

.

Her brother sends Lex to ask for assistance from Bodie Flynn, a near-recluse scientist studying newly discovered forms of energy which may just hold the clue to the disappearances. But Bodie used to be someone else entirely, and he blames Lex’s family for his current situation.

.

The scientific puzzles are too much for either to resist (and pretty soon they’re having trouble resisting one another, as well). Off they go, via sailboat and seaplane, to one small island after another in pursuit of missing whales, reappearing (and possibly insane) dolphins, mysterious energy, psychic powers, and the occasional explosion.

Texas Lightning

Anna Delaney, heroine of Gerry Bartlett’s latest romantic suspense novel, Texas Lightning, is a recent Boston to Austin transplant. She’s getting settled in her job with the software development company that bought up her previous employer—her own as yet unfinished pharmaceutical application was the major asset in the sale.

.

Texas LightningBut she’s not used to Texas weather. When the temperature shoots into the eighties on a winter day, Anna, wearing a heavy wool sweater, comes close to fainting in the Capitol rotunda, only to be rescued by a handsome and well dressed, if somewhat overbearing, cowboy.

.

King Sanders (fans of Bartlett’s books will remember him from Texas Fire) insists on driving his sharp-tongued damsel in distress home from her ill-fated tour of the capitol building, only to find her little dog running loose in her parking lot and her apartment ransacked, computers stolen.

.

Anna and King soon realize that her computer project is even more valuable than she thought, especially to the wrong people. And those wrong people know that the unfinished program is worthless without Anna. Theft escalates to kidnapping and violence, and even the ever-changeable Texas weather seems to conspire against them as they fight to protect themselves and their friends.

.

Texas Lightning rocks with both suspense and, of course, romance. It’s the first in a new three-book series from Bartlett.

 

Lark Brennan’s Durand Chronicles

Somehow Recklessly Yours, the third in Lark Brennan’s Durand Chronicles series, hid in a corner of my Kindle for a few months, but finishing it kept me up until 2 o’clock one Recklessly Yoursmorning (and I had to go fetch the charging cable and plug my Kindle in for the last half hour). The series might best be described as paranormal romantic suspense, although the characters are all human and the paranormal elements are all psychic. This entry involves a decidedly non-Indian artifact found on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana and two Durand Protectors (who haven’t spoken in seven years) sent to investigate and retrieve it.

.

Chantal Durand has been working as an archaeologist in Australia (where she was briefly jailed for shooting an ex-lover in the butt), but she’s called back to her Protector duties when a mysterious artifact turns up in Montana. Her psychic abilities are just what’s needed to find a clue to the origin and meaning of the strange piece of tile. As if landing in the frozen north without the proper wardrobe wasn’t trouble enough, she finds herself working with Tanner Hays, the last partner she wants. The last time they worked together, Tanner’s best friend was killed, and he still blames Chantal for that disaster. The search for the more powerful artifact connected to the tile leads to suspense and more than a few plot twists as Chantal and Tanner make their way through dangerous blizzards and even more dangerous opponents equally determined to find the missing treasure.

.

Recklessly Yours works as a stand alone novel of romantic suspense, but if you want to read the Chronicles from the beginning, and follow the twists and turns within the powerful Durand family and among their allies and opponents (not always easy to tell apart), start with Dangerously Yours. To outside eyes, Lex Durand is a marine biologist studying whales and dolphins. Only her close relatives in the large and powerful Durand clan know that she is an animal telepath, and that some of her study subjects have gone mysteriously missing.

.

Her brother sends Lex to ask for assistance from Bodie Flynn, a near-recluse scientist Dangerously Yoursstudying newly discovered forms of energy which may just hold the clue to the disappearances. But Bodie used to be someone else entirely, and he blames Lex’s family for his current situation.

.

The scientific puzzles are too much for either to resist (and pretty soon they’re having trouble resisting one another, as well). Off they go, via sailboat and seaplane, to one small island after another in pursuit of missing whales, reappearing, and possibly insane, dolphins, mysterious energy, psychic powers, and the occasional explosion.

.

Book two, Irresistibly Yours, moves to Paris, headquarters of the Durand empire. When Tate Fulbright wanders into a shop in Paris, looking for an entomological collection she’d Irresistibly Yoursheard about from her scientist mother, she finds instead an amazing collection of taxidermied animals, as well as Adrien Durand, who seems just as amazing to a girl from Indiana, in the City of Light for a pharmaceutical convention. But despite her inexperience with the high society and wealth that Durand represents, Tate isn’t just another tourist from Indianapolis. She communicates with animals at a deep level, hears voices in her head, feels the emotions of the crowds around her, and has no idea where these abilities—or disabilities—come from.

.

Adrien Durand, head of the far-flung Durand clan and its many commercial and charitable interests, doesn’t know where Tate’s talents come from, either, and that worries him. Is she a wild talent, or someone sent to spy on the Durands by one of the other psychic clans, some shaky allies, some outright enemies. For the Durands and their counterparts fight a long and continuing battle to either protect or enslave the ordinaires of the world.

.

The Durand Chronicles works on all levels: romance, suspense, and psychic adventure.

 

Colleen Thompson: The Off Season

Colleen Thompson’s latest romantic suspense novel, The Off Season, is set in a small Jersey shore community, Seaside Creek, in the winter. The tourists are gone, leaving their summer mansions to sit empty, risking vandalism and worse. Dr. Christina Paxton, recently widowed, has returned to her hometown to work in the emergency room of the local hospital. Thanks to her real estate agent mother, she’s also house sitting, living with her two-year-old daughter, Lilly, and a retired racing greyhound called Max.

.

the-off-seasonThen one night Christina hears words no one could expect to hear from a two-year-old child. “Murder me,” Lilly says. “Bad people.” Lilly’s strange words continue with names and references that take Christina back thirty years, to terrifying memories that no one else could possibly share. Strange dreams, voices through Lilly’s baby monitor, and vandalism drive Christina back into contact with Harris Bowers, once her high school classmate and summer fling, now chief of the small Seaside Creek police department, the last person from her cloudy past Christina would choose to depend on.

.

Harris has his own set of problems: the physical after effects of an explosion, a recent not-very-amicable divorce (from Christina’s old friend and recent baby sitter), and a spate of crime in Seaside Creek. He would like to mend fences with Christina, but the barriers erected in the past may be insurmountable.

.

As the dangers around her multiply, Christina has no idea who she can trust, least of all herself, as she struggles to keep the secrets of her past, even when those secrets may be at the root of all that threatens her, and her child, in the present.

.

The Off Season may be Colleen Thompson’s best work to date (and she has written quite a few excellent romantic suspense novels). Not only are there multiple suspects who might be behind the threats to Christina and Lilly, but those possible suspects have motives ranging from the not-quite-buried past to the present. Add to that the growing tension and rebirth of attraction between Christina and Harris, and you have a true up-all-night read.

Lark Brennan: Irresistibly Yours

Irresistibly Yours is the second installment in Lark Brennan’s fascinating Durand Chronicles (after Dangerously Yours), romantic suspense with more than a touch of the paranormal.

.

Irresistibly YoursWhen Tate Fulbright wanders into a shop in Paris, looking for an entomological collection she’d heard about from her scientist mother, she finds instead an amazing collection of taxidermied animals, as well as Adrien Durand, who seems just as amazing to a girl from Indiana, in the City of Light for a pharmaceutical convention. But despite her inexperience with the high society and wealth that Durand represents, Tate isn’t just another tourist from Indianapolis. She communicates with animals at a deep level, hears voices in her head, feels the emotions of the crowds around her, and has no idea where these abilities—or disabilities—come from.

.

Adrien Durand, head of the far-flung Durand clan and its many commercial and charitable interests, doesn’t know where Tate’s talents come from, either, and that worries him. Is she a wild talent, or someone sent to spy on the Durands by one of the other psychic clans, some shaky allies, some outright enemies. For the Durands and their counterparts fight a long and continuing battle to either protect or enslave the ordinaires of the world.

.

Adrien finds himself increasingly attracted to Tate, but his responsibilities—and his family—throw barriers between them. Tate has her doubts, too, tossed as she is into a world she never suspected and doesn’t understand. But Adrien’s world may hold the answers to the mysteries in her head, and give her a new purpose in life—if they can both survive.

.

The world of the Durands, with its wide array of psychic powers, Protectors and Dissemblers, and family connections—and secrets—going back generations, expands with each installment. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Sarah Andre: Tall, Dark, & Damaged

Tall, Dark & Damaged, Sarah Andre’s second romantic suspense novel (after Locked, Loaded, & Lying) is even better than her first. Her damaged hero, Devon Ashby, has returned to Chicago for the first time in twelve years, since he ran from his wealthy but highly dysfunctional family to build his own life—and his own successful real estate development firm—in New York City. He expects to sign for the trust fund left him by his long dead mother and return to his wealthy and socially active fiancee in short order.

.

Tall Dark and DamagedHe doesn’t expect the shocking surprise his vengeful father has for him, which may spell the destruction of everything Devon has worked for.

.

When Devon left Chicago, he left his high school sweetheart, Hannah Moore, behind, never quite understanding why she refused to go with him, cutting himself off from her as well as from his family, even dropping his father’s name, Wickham, for his mother’s, Ashby. Running into Hannah, now the owner of an art restoration firm, in his father’s house working to repair damage down by an unexplained fire, is as big a shock, and as disturbing, as anything his father has threatened.

.

Tall, Dark & Damaged weaves the never-quite-forgotten relationship between Devon and Hannah with complicated business dealings and long buried family secrets. As Hannah fights to hold on to her business and provide a home for her aged and ailing aunt, Devon struggles to understand the feelings and reactions of Hannah, his siblings, and his father, both of them caught in a web of emotions anchored far in the past.

.

Andre does a fine job of painting characters for whom the tragedies of the past and the struggles of the present combine to force them into situations that seem to have no solutions. Love may conquer all, but it has quite a fight to get there in Tall, Dark & Damaged.

Previous Older Entries