Friday, March 5, 2021

SERIES REVIEW - Kendra Michaels



In this combined series review, I will be writing comprehensive reviews on each book in the Kendra Michaels series by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen. I recently read book #8, but it has been months since reading the prior books in the series. Time for me to test my memory.


Title
:   Close Your Eyes
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   353
Date of Publication:   July 17, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

From the New York Times bestselling author

WHAT YOU DON'T SEE CAN KILL YOU.


Blind for the first twenty years of her life, Kendra Michaels honed her other senses to almost superhuman perfection and unintentionally became a secret weapon for the FBI. Her uncanny ability to pick up the most subtle audio, olfactory, and tactile cues in the world around her made her a law-enforcement legend. Today, her expertise is called for once again.

When Kendra is approached by a dubious source about a serial murder investigation, her instincts tell her to steer clear. This time, however, the case is personal: The next name to turn up on the killer's hit list is Kendra's own ex-lover, an FBI agent who disappeared without a trace. Now it's up to Kendra to pick up the trail?or close her eyes again ... forever.

MY THOUGHTS:

I all but inhaled the Eve Duncan series by the writing team due of Iris Johansen and her son Roy Johansen. I had previously met Kendra Michaels in the long-running series. It was wonderful to read this debut title in this series here. As this book and series begins, Kendra, blind since birth, underwent a procedure and now her eyesight has been restored. During the years of her blindness, Kendra honed her other senses to the point of near perfection. Now that she can see again, her attention to detail is just about flawless.

Adam Lynch is a former FBI Agent who asks for Kendra's assistance on a case. Although she is a music therapist, she has been already been recognized for her extraordinary skills. The scenario here involves the fact that Kendra's ex-lover is missing. The fact that he indeed might be dead does not do much for the chemistry that is more than evident between Adam and Kendra. 

I found this book to be a promising start to a series that I did end up reading most of until the newest book has been recently released. I loved Kendra from the start, and although each book had its expected twists and turns in order to keep the story going, this book certainly had enough tension to keep me riveted from beginning to end.

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Title
:   Sleep No More
Series:  Eve Duncan #15
Kendra Michaels #1.75
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   400
Date of Publication:   October 16, 2012
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen comes a new thriller that will have Eve Duncan questioning everything she thought she knew about her family and her past

One woman held captive for decades…
Another one freed by the truth…

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan knows what it's like to be haunted by the past. For years after her daughter Bonnie was stolen from her, she fought for closure. But now as she's striving to begin anew, she can't shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen—or maybe already has. When her mother, Sandra, asks for help in finding a missing friend named Beth Avery, Eve is sure that she's hiding something. It’s odd that Sandra would get involved at all, and the fact that she adamantly refuses to go to the police for help reinforces Eve’s suspicions that something is very wrong.

Eve learns that Beth has been locked away in a mental hospital for years, which makes it even harder to understand how she could have disappeared. As Sandra reluctantly reveals small pieces of the truth about Beth's identity, Eve is shocked to discover that their lives are strangely entwined, and Beth's disappearance now puts them all in grave danger.

Desperate, Eve enlists a secret weapon to pick up Beth's trail: rogue profiler, Kendra Michaels. With an uncanny ability to detect clues and solve puzzles, Kendra begins to uncover the bizarre circumstances of Beth's escape from what should have been the safety of her hospital room. Beth is on the run, and as her mind clears--detoxing from the drugs that have held her prisoner--she begins to see the threads of a twisted plot within the powerful Avery family, threatening to destroy Beth and anyone else who might jeopardize the high-stakes game that is already in play.

MY THOUGHTS:

Sleep No More is part of the long-running Eve Duncan series by Iris Johansen. However, in this book readers are introduced to profiler Kendra Michaels. Therefore, this book is also marketed as #1.75 of the Kendra Michaels series. Eve is a forensic sculptor and has proved instrumental time and again at bringing closure to families as she restores faces of their lost and missing, mostly children. In this case, she is asked by her mother Sandra to help her find a missing friend named Beth Avery.

Eve questions her mother as to why she won't just go to the police. Sandra is determined not to and continues to appeal to Eve for help. As Eve, along with husband Joe, a cop, yet so much more, they discover the woman's location. Sandra is slow to providing answers about Beth, but Eve soldiers on to try and find answers. Coming up dry, Eve seeks the help of Kendra Michaels. Kendra is a remarkable woman, blind for years but due to a surgery has had her sight restored.  During her years in the dark she honed her other senses to near perfection, thus having amazing deductive skills. Now, with the power of sight restored, Kendra is sharper than ever and proves invaluable to helping Eve find answers.

I love getting to know Kendra and her exceptional ability to decipher clues. Her relationship with Eve is wonderful and they work well together. As is always the case in these books by Johansen, danger is always close at hand. Bonnie, Eve's deceased daughter, has a role in this book as she has in most of the Eve Duncan stories. This was a thrilling fast-paced read that I actually read while reading the first series. 

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Title
:   Sight Unseen
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:   July 15, 2014
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Edgar Award winning author are back with a new a new novel featuring Kendra Michaels—hired gun for both the CIA and FBI

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.

MY THOUGHTS:

Forced into another blind date by her well-meaning mother, Kendra Michaels is eager for things to come to an end. The man loves one subject: himself. She notices the scene of a car accident on the TV above the bar. As her attention is drawn to the story, she says to her date that they are treating it like an accident. However, Kendra possesses incredibly fine skills. In brief, she was born blind and had learned to fine-tune her other senses. A successful surgery has since returned her vision, thus sharpening her skills even more. She tells her date, Dean by the way, that they are handling things wrong. They are treating it like an accident, but she can tell - even from the television across the room - that the tragedy was not caused by an accident, but much more than that.

She asks Dean to take her to the scene of the accident. Date over. Kendra is stepping in and won't take no for an answer. She approaches the officer handling things and begins sharing her acute observations. Kendra is no rubbernecker who randomly shown up at a traffic accident. She is Dr. Kendra Michaels and has acquired quite a reputation. She is asked to stay around and is indeed pulled into the investigation.

Kendra has previously put away several killers. Now it seems that a killer is replicating some of the methods those other killers employed. This is the deduction that Kendra makes at the outset. As she gets deeper into the investigation she is forced to match wits with serial killer Eric Colby. His DNA was found at the scene. However, he was the first killer Kendra ever put away and has been on death row for the past four years. She knows she must go and talk to Eric Colby and that will be no easy task.

Meanwhile, Kendra soon finds herself working former FBI special agent Adam Lynch yet again. This investigation no doubt places Kendra in grave danger, and Kendra takes refuge in Adam's fortified home while they look for the serial killer. Adam knows that Kendra won't be safe, and assures her that his home will provide all the protection she will need, thus giving the both of them the best chance at finding the killer.-

Despite the protection offered Kendra, she is concerned about the safety of her family and friends, especially her mother, possibly being targeted. Also, the more she and Adam work together, the stronger their growing attraction to each other becomes. Add to the incredible sexual tension, the pulse-pounding action in this story makes it a thoroughly exciting read. 

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Title
:   The Naked Eye
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   325
Date of Publication:   July 14, 2015
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

HOW CAN YOU CATCH A KILLER WHEN EVERYONE THINKS HE'S DEAD?

KENDRA MICHAELS was instrumental in bringing serial killer Eric Colby to justice, but despite his apparent execution at San Quentin, Kendra is convinced that Colby is still alive. The problem is that she can’t prove it. Even her razor-sharp powers of observation - developed to an amazing capacity during the twenty years she spent blind, and now in constant demand by law enforcement agencies - have gotten her nowhere.

But then a reporter who very publicly humiliated Kendra is murdered. Visiting the crime scene in search of anything that might link the brutal homicide to Colby, Kendra instead finds evidence that points to her. Finally Colby's master plan becomes clear to her: he is framing Kendra for murder.

Suspicions mount and Kendra is thrust into deadly pursuit to clear her name and catch the killer no one believes exists anymore. A killer who is always nearby, watching, waiting to make his next move, although everyone assumes him to be dead. A killer whose trail of destruction is invisible to the naked eye, despite the carnage he leaves in his wake. It will take everything Kendra has to find Colby and stop him - and save her own life one more time.


MY THOUGHTS:

Dr. Kendra Michaels is often sought after by the CIA and the FBI. Having spent twenty years without sight, Kendra managed to sharpen all of her other skills to a razor point. Having had a surgery that has restored that sight, this only adds to Kendra's other exceptional skills. Waking up after a horrid nightmare one night, she gets a text message from the San Diego Police Department. It is from Martin Stokes, a homicide detective. He provides her a few details about a crime and an address. Still shaking from the nightmare, Kendra readies herself and heads to an active crime scene.

What was her nightmare about, by the way? The first killer she put behind bars, Eric Colby, was to have been executed recently. Is he even dead? Why is he disturbing her sleep? Do the police even believe Kendra when she insists that Colby is alive and part of this?

Kendra is quite well-known. It has been observed more than once that blind people develop their other senses to compensate and, now that her sight has been restored, Kendra has the unique ability to pick up on things most other people don't. This is part of the reason Stokes wanted Kendra at the scene. Not usually disturbed by dead bodies, this one shakes Kendra. It is the body of a reporter, one who Kendra had major issues with previously. 

About Colby. The scene is linked to him. In fact, he has laid things out so well, that all of the evidence points to her. Will she be able to clear her name and find Colby and get the elusive, now escaped killer back behind bars? Kendra has a race against time because the killer, if it is indeed Colby, has no problem leaving a trail of bodies along the way.

In the previous books of this series, Kendra paired up with former FBI Agent Adam Lynch. Now she has her friend Beth and computer consultant Sam helping her, even working hard to keep her alive. Being targeted by Colby most certainly is not a comfortable place to be. With the action and intensity that comes part and parcel with this series, I enjoyed watching Kendra pull out all of the stops while working feverishly hard to recapture Colby once and for all.

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Title
Night Watch
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   342
Date of Publication:   October 25, 2016
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

From the New York Times bestselling author

Born blind, Kendra Michaels spent the first twenty years of her life living in the darkness. Then, thanks to a revolutionary medical procedure developed by England's Night Watch Project, she was given the gift of sight. Her highly-developed senses (honed during her years in the dark), combined with her new found vision, have made her a remarkable investigator, sought after by law-enforcement agencies all over the country. But her newest case finds her uncovering a deadly truth about the shadowy organization that has given her so much.

Kendra is surprised when she is visited by Dr. Charles Waldridge, the researcher who gave her sight. But all is not well with the brilliant surgeon; he's troubled by something he can't discuss with Kendra. When Waldridge disappears that very night, Kendra is on the case, recruiting government agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to join her on a trail that leads to the snow-packed California mountains. There they make a gruesome discovery: the corpse of one of Dr. Waldridge's associates, brutally murdered in the freezing snow. But it's only the first casualty in a white-knuckle confrontation with a deadly enemy who will push Kendra to the limits of her abilities. Soon she must fight for her very survival as she tries to stop the killing... and unearth the deadly secret of Night Watch.

MY THOUGHTS:

Twenty years in the dark as a blind woman came to an end for Dr. Kendra Michaels. A revolutionary surgery restored her sight. During those sightless years, Kendra developed her other senses to near perfection. Adding sight back in has given Kendra an extra edge when it comes to seeing things others easily miss.

In this exciting fourth book in the series, there is a new killer at large. Kendra has just delivered another research paper, this one regarding aging. When she is not being sought after by the police, CIA and the FBI for her professional assistance, she has created several successful music therapy programs, her latest one that can be used to treat Alzheimer's patients. As Kendra is wrapping things up, she is shocked to see one particular person in the audience. It is Dr. Charles Waldridge, the very researcher who gave her back her sight. It has been five years, but here he is.

Kendra can sense immediately that something is really bothering Charles. As they begin to catch up, Kendra tries to see what it is that is troubling Charles. However, is is reluctant to share much with her, and then he disappears. Of course, Kendra is on the case, pulling former FBI agent Adam Lynch in for his assistance. Adam is pretty much a consultant like Kendra has become and the two work well together. Meanwhile, they are still dealing with their powerful shared attraction. As always, the authors present readers with an intense, action-filled ride. Add in some unsavory characters, thrilling situations and Night Watch is truly an exceptional story. 

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Title
:   Look Behind You
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   352
Date of Publication:   July 18, 2017
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

A serial killer is on the loose in San Diego, and he has a most unusual M.O.

With each kill, he leaves behind objects with unclear meanings. Most of the recent killings are centered near Kendra Michaels’ home and office, so it comes as no great surprise when the FBI shows up at her door. The investigators soon make a startling discovery: the left-behind objects are actually souvenirs of other unsolved serial murder cases in various U.S. cities. And the new cases feature “holdback” characteristics of the other murders unknown to the general public. 

Kendra realizes that the killer has come to challenge and taunt her. The investigators become his newest targets, even as Kendra slowly begins to suspect that one of them may be the killer himself. She must find the killer as the body count rises, and to do so she relies on her own ”dream team” of agent-for-hire Adam Lynch and private investigator Jessie Mercado. They must risk everything to defeat a psychopath whose terrifying plan is years in the making.


MY THOUGHTS:

Dr. Kendra Michaels is truly an exceptional person. Blinded for over twenty years, sight now restored, and all the while she had been fine-tuning her other senses. This makes her invaluable to multiple agencies as a consultant. But her heart is in her music therapy program, helping the young and old alike. One day after working with a child and his mother, FBI Special Agents Roland Metcalf and Gina Carson are waiting to talk to her. 

Three murders have taken place in the last week. Metcalf wants Kendra's assistance, and she reluctantly agrees to help. As much as Metcalf wants Kendra's help, his new partner Gina Carson feels the opposite. Metcalf quickly tells Carson that Kendra's expertise has been invaluable time and again and that some cases might never have been solved if Kendra hadn't stepped in. Kendra has the unique ability to see things others cannot. 

As Kendra steps knee deep into the investigation, the clues the serial killer is leaving behind are utterly chilling. It does not take Kendra long to realize that the three victims are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, she realizes that there might be well over two dozen victims in various states. It seems the killer wants Kendra involved, especially considering the clues he is leaving around. As in previous cases, this puts Kendra's life at risk.

Kendra is not alone in her search for the killer. In fact, she has her friends there to assist her. Olivia is special to Kendra and has developed a web destination that assists the vision-impaired. Then there is Jessie, another close friend and also a private investigator. The other person who steps in when needed is former FBI Agent Adam Lynch, a love interest of Kendra's who has appeared in all of the previous books in this series. 

I think Look Behind You was a terrific story and a great addition to a thoroughly enjoyable series. I love the action, the characters, the scenarios and the danger. This exciting book delivered an amazing and touching ending, and had me more than ready to read the next book in the series.

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Title
:   Double Blind
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   325 Pages
Date of Publication:   July 17, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

Kendra Michaels, formerly blind and now a hired gun for law enforcement agencies who relies on her razor-sharp powers of observation, is reluctant to help the FBI with the most recent case they’ve brought to her. But then she hears the details: the body was found just blocks away from Kendra’s condo. The young woman was carrying an envelope with Kendra’s name on it, and inside was an SD card with what appears to be an innocuous video of a wedding reception. The woman died trying to get the video to Kendra, but for what purpose? Before Kendra and the FBI can answer that question, the bride is abducted from her suburban home.

And so the hunt is on for a killer whose nightmarish plan is slowly becoming clear. A plan that involves a powerful law firm and a multi-billion dollar corporation. As the body count rises, Kendra joins forces with private investigator Jessie Mercado and agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to stop the plot as it grows ever closer to its terrifying conclusion.

In Double Blind, Iris and Roy Johansen deliver an emotional, gripping new entry in the bestselling Kendra Michaels series.


MY THOUGHTS:

If you are following this series, you might be quite pleased to know that you don't have to read a couple of hundred pages before Dr. Kendra Michaels off and on love interest former FBI Agent Adam Lynch appears in the story. He is here, front and center, at the very beginning.

Who is the inestimable Kendra Michaels? Blind for over twenty years, having honed her other senses to near perfection, and now with her life restored due to an experimental procedure, she is invaluable to multiple law agencies as a consultant. Her job, however, is a music therapist, so she is rather reluctant to step into some of the cases where they need her help.

In the most recent case brought to Kendra's attention, a young woman has been killed just a few blocks away from Kendra's condo. The woman had an envelope with an SD card inside. When Kendra views what looks like a video of a wedding reception, her reluctance to help is gone in an instant. Before Kendra can really begin to ascertain what is going on, the bride is abducted, and soon bodies are being strewn about.

Who is the killer this time? What is the motive? And will Kendra, along with friend and private investigator Jessie Mercado, and yes, Adam Lynch, be able to bring the killer to justice and stop any more senseless deaths? We also have FBI Agent Michael Griffin as part of the investigation. Because I love continuity and connecting characters, I would be remiss if I did not mention Olivia, another good friend of Kendra's and how they work well together during this difficult case.

If you have been reading the series in order as I have, you will have come to know the strong, intelligent, observant and amazing woman that is Kendra Michaels. You will also see how she has her friends to help her and how her exceptional skills, along with the expertise and resources of others all work towards stopping a killing spree. With excellent pacing, action and danger at just about every turn, Double Blind is an excellent addition to an already thrilling series.

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Title:   Hindsight
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   361
Date of Publication:   January 7, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars
Investigator Kendra Michaels -- whose former blindness has left her with uniquely insightful observational skills -- must put her life on the line to catch a terrifying murderer setting his sights on some of society's most vulnerable in this electrifying new novel from the #1 New York Times and Edgar Award winning writing duo Iris and Roy Johansen.

Dr. Kendra Michaels, blind for the first twenty years of her life before gaining her sight via a revolutionary surgical procedure, is a renowned investigator known for her razor-sharp senses--honed during her years in the dark--and keen deductive abilities.

Now her skills are needed uncomfortably close to home. Two staff members have been murdered at a school for the blind where Kendra spent her formative years. But the murders are puzzlingly dissimilar: one victim was brutally stabbed, while the other was killed by a bullet to the head. Are the crimes related? Or is Kendra on the hunt for more than one dangerous killer?

With the killer (or killers) still on the loose, Kendra must put her life on the line to unravel a terrifying conspiracy. But Kendra soon discovers that she herself may hold the key to the deadliest secret of all..


MY THOUGHTS:

When it is said you cannot go home again, it is often true. For Kendra, this statement is painful for more than one reason. Blind since birth, Kendra spent two decades honing her other senses. Now that her sight has been restored due to a remarkable procedure, Kendra has developed exceptional investigative skills. Skills used by the police, CIA and FBI, no matter how reluctant Kendra may be to assist.

When Kendra was a child, she went to a school for the blind. It was at this very school that some of the staff members have been murdered. None of the MOs match, yet Kendra is positive they are all connected. If she is correct, she is hunting a serial killer. If not, then there just might be other killers at large. Will Kendra be able to get to the bottom of things before her very life comes into jeopardy?

As before, Kendra is not alone in her search. There is Adam Lynch, former FBI agent and off and on love interest of Kendra's. Then there are good friends Olivia and Jessie, with Jessie's job as a private investigator proving quite useful. Also, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Griffin is on the case. For readers like me, recurring characters and continuity really connects me to all of the various series that I enjoy reading. 

When you factor in the connection to Kendra's past, what is happening at the school now, the search for killers while hoping no one else has to die, you have the makings of a very good story. The fact that it was a fast-paced story with surprising twists and turns and a shocking conclusion all came together to make Hindsight an excellent addition to the Kendra Michaels series.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC for review This is my honest opinion.

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Title:   Blink of an Eye
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   343 Pages
Date of Publication:   February 2, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

A #1 New York Times bestselling author and an Edgar Award winner team up to deliver this gripping new novel featuring investigator Kendra Michaels—whose observational skills are worthy of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes.

Delilah Winter is one of the hottest pop stars on the planet, so how in the world was she kidnapped right in the middle of a show at the famous Hollywood Bowl? If anyone can figure it out, it's Dr. Kendra Michaels, who works with local and federal authorities on only the most impossible cases. Blind for the first twenty years of her life until a revolutionary surgical procedure allowed her to regain her sight, Kendra uses her powers of observation—honed during her years in the dark—to detect what other investigators don't. She agrees to lead the race to rescue the young singer before time runs out.

Joined by Jessie Mercado, the singer's former bodyguard and a military hero, Kendra closes in on the hideout location but not before casualties mount up. Desperate for leads, Kendra must set aside her personal feelings when agent-for-hire Adam Lynch also volunteers his special skills to aid in the search.

But as the abductor's true purpose becomes clear, the trio uncover a plot they never could have imagined—leading to a showdown they won't soon forget.


MY THOUGHTS:

Although it has been nearly a year since I binge read the first seven books in this exciting series by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen, I was very excited to read the 8th book in the Kendra Michaels series, Blink of an Eye. Dr. Kendra Michaels had been blind since birth for twenty years, and had a very successful procedure that gave her sight. During those years, Kendra fine-tined her other senses. Now that she has her sight, her skills are beyond acceptable. A successful music therapist, Kendra has proved to be an invaluable consultant to the police, the FBI and even the CIA.

Her current case is much more personal, however. Her good friend, Jessie Mercado, who is also a private investigator, is a bodyguard to Delilah Winter, a young singer who has achieved Superstar status. Delilah has been kidnapped and Kendra will turn over every stone until Delilah is found. So, Kendra and Jessie work together, as well as former FBI Agent Adam Lynch, a love interest of Kendra's who has been in just about every book in this series. With occasional assistance from FBI Agents Griffin and Metcalf, Kendra, Jessie and Adam desperately try and find Delilah.

I have loved every book in this series, and have rated each book a steady 4 Stars. This book went up in my estimation and thus I gave it 5 Stars. This story was utterly thrilling and having gotten quite familiar with this fabulous series and all of the connecting characters, I felt like I was right in the the thick of things while reading this exciting book. 

Not only do I love the principal characters in this book, I loved Delilah as well. She was a strong individual who gave as good as she got. While on the one hand I enjoyed watching the suspense, trying to discover the motive and the identity of the kidnapper, it was also a delight watching Delilah handle her situation. It was like watching two stories in real time. All while the suspense grew and the story flowed at a rapid pace, I loved the underlying connection between Kendra and Adam. What an enjoyable story to an engaging series. I am very hopeful for book #9 to come on the horizon. 

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC for review This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn't Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve, Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On The Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and more. And with her son Roy Johansen, she has coauthored The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.

Johansen began writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. She had seventeen consecutive New York Times bestsellers as of November 2006.


Johansen lives near Atlanta, Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.


Roy Johansen began his professional writing career with his original screenplay for "Murder 101," written in college and for which he won the national FOCUS (Films Of College and University Students) award, a competition sponsored by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese. The screenplay was later produced for cable television and starred Pierce Brosnan. The "Murder 101" script was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe award from the Mystery Writers of America in the Best Television Miniseries or Movie category.

Later, Johansen collaborated with comic book legend Stan Lee in creating The Accuser superhero character, which appeared in a series of animated adventures  from Stan Lee Media.  Johansen has written screenplays for Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Disney, and MGM.

More recently, Johansen has written several New York Times bestselling mystery novels, including "The Answer Man," "Beyond Belief," "Deadly Visions," "Silent Thunder," "Storm Cycle," "Shadow Zone, "Close Your Eyes," "Sight Unseen," "The Naked Eye" and "Night Watch."

His next thriller will be released by Grand Central Publishing in 2021.


BLOG TOUR - To Catch a Dream

Title:   To Catch a Dream
AuthorAudrey Carlan
Series:  Wish #2
Publisher HQN
Genre:   Romance
FormatKindle ARC
No. of Pages:   320
Date of Publication:   March 9, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the worldwide phenomenon Calendar Girl series brings readers a poignant and honest look at life’s most complicated relationships.

When their mother passed away, Evie Ross and her sister were each given a stack of letters, one to be opened every year on their birthday; letters their free-spirited mother hoped would inspire and guide them through adulthood. But although Evie has made a successful career, her desire for the stability and security she never had from her parents has meant she’s never experienced the best life has to offer. But the discovery of more letters hidden in a safe-deposit box points to secrets her mother held close, and possibly a new way for Evie to think about her family, her heart and her dreams.


BUY LINKS:

MY THOUGHTS:

Evie Ross and her sister Suda Kaye received a stack of letters once their mother passed away from cancer. For years, Evie watched their mother flit in and out of their lives while filled with the wanderlust spirit. Meanwhile, Evie's father was in the military and she only saw him sporadically. Whenever their mother traveled, Evie and Suda Kaye stayed on the reservation with their Comanche grandfather. They were quite close.

When the girls read their letters, Evie 20 and Suda Kaye 18, Suda Kaye followed their mother's footsteps and traveled for years. However, Evie stayed put. She finished college, obtained a degree and developed a very successful career in finance. The letters the girls got from their mother were to be read each year on their birthdays. These letters proved to be quite a guiding force for Evie. 

When Evie is thirty years old, her life is coming along quite nicely. In fact, so is Suda Kaye's. In fact, Suda Kaye is now married and giddy and wants the exact same for Evie. When Milo Chavis expresses interest in Evie, Suda Kaye pushes Evie to accept Milo's attentions. Evie and Milo have a past - he once protected her from bullies. She has been in love with him since she was eight years old. Milo is now in the finance business and he proposes a collaboration of sorts. However, it soon becomes quite apparent that Milo has much more than business on his mind.

In this wonderfully warm story, we see the challenges Evie faced growing up, especially as she was fair and blond, although half Native American. Falling for a sexy Native American man is truly her heart's desire. However, will the baggage she has been carrying for years going to present and insurmountable challenge when it comes to what could be a marvelously happy future?

I loved this book. I loved reading of modern-day Native American culture mixed with today's expectations. I loved the reality of someone who loved a parent dearly, although that parent was not really there for them. I also loved the fact that Evie's mother left the girls letters, letters opened yearly that helped to guide them through life. Lastly, I loved the ending and the additional character that would no doubt have an affect on Evie's life and future.

What a fabulous book! To Catch a Dream is the second book in the Wish series. The first book, What the Heart Wants, was just as wonderful as this one. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. I pretty much can guess who the female protagonist will be in that book. 

Many thanks to HQN and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Please enjoy the following excerpt:
PROLOGUE

Ten years ago…

Tears track down my face as Tahsuda, my Toko, which is the Comanche word for “grandfather,” hands me a large stack of pink envelopes tied with a ribbon. My mother’s beautiful handwriting is visible on the top. He hands another stack to my eighteen-year-old sister, Suda Kaye.

“From my Catori, for her Taabe and Huutsuu,” he begins, using the Comanche nicknames my mother gave us. “To have a piece of her on their birthdays. One for today, and one for each birthday and important moment in your life to come. I shall leave you to your peace but know I am here for you, forevermore.” Tahsuda puts his hands together under his worn red-and-black poncho and nods his head forward. His long, silky black hair gleams a dark midnight blue in the rays of the sunlight that streak through our bedroom window. His hair is so much like my mother’s I have to swallow down the sob that aches to come out in a flood of misery and grief.

Misery because I am so angry at her for all the time we could have had together. Grief because she left this world six months ago, and today, on my twentieth birthday and Suda Kaye’s eighteenth, we are facing our entire lives without her. This wasn’t another one of her many adventures. We’d grown used to the routine. She’d skip around the house, packing her battered suitcase while she told us all about what she hoped to see and do on her travels. While she fluttered around the globe, we stayed behind and went to school, dropped off for an undetermined amount of time at the reservation where our grandfather lived. Months later, with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, she’d reenter our lives as though she’d never even left.

At least she’d come back.

As much as I hated our mother’s wanderlust, I always knew eventually she’d find her way home. Her weary feet would be tired, and she’d come dancing into Toko’s home with grand tales about a world I didn’t ever care to see. I didn’t want to go anywhere that made me up and leave my family for months on end. Them always wondering where I was, who I was with and whether or not I was okay.

No way. That was not me. And it never would be.

I finger the ribbon on the stack of envelopes and take mine to the papasan chair in the corner of our shared room. Suda Kaye stretches out on her twin bed. We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Pueblo. Suda Kaye has just graduated high school. I attend the local community college.

The one thing Catori Ross never imagined could happen to her was illness. In all her plans to travel the globe, to experience absolutely everything she could, she didn’t factor in time to get regular checkups. Since she didn’t tend to get sick, Mom hadn’t been to a doctor in a solid decade before she started to feel unwell. After three solid months of lethargy and depression—two things our mother never was— the first round of tests gave us the first blow.

Cancer.

Stage four.

She believed with her whole heart that she could beat it, but as Toko says, cancer took both his wife and his daughter. He says it was written in the stars. That was the reason he never gave Mom hell about her traveling and leaving us with him. He always said a person must do what their heart wants. Dreams are not only for the sleeping. They are meant to be chased and caught.

Our mother lived. Chased every dream with a hunger that could never be quenched. I fear my sister will do the same.

Suda Kaye sits against her headboard as I cuddle into the chair. I untie the ribbon and then set all but the top letter to the side. The first envelope has today’s date on it and her nickname for me. Taabe, which means “sun” in Comanche. Mom called me her sun because I am light everywhere, while she and my sister were dark. Mom was full-blooded Native American like Toko. Suda Kaye and I are half, and we each have different fathers. I got a lot of my coloring from my father, Adam Ross. Like Dad, my hair is golden blond and I have his ice-blue eyes. Though my high cheekbones, the shape of my eyes and my full lips are my mother’s. Suda Kaye has dark, espresso-colored hair, amber eyes and will one day have a knockout figure. She already is growing into her womanly hourglass shape—full bosom, long legs and rounded hips. Me, I have the tall, lanky, athletic build. Still, there is no denying our heritage even with the play on light and dark in our coloring.

We are Catori’s daughters, a vibrant mix of her and our biological fathers. Though Suda Kaye and I don’t know much about her real dad. We just know what Mom told us much later in life—that she had made a mistake. She and her husband—my father, Adam—had been going through a rough time and separated for a year. In that year she’d gone on an adventure and come back pregnant with my sister. I was only two when she was born so none of that had ever mattered to me one way or the other. My father treated Suda Kaye mostly the same, which also didn’t matter because he wasn’t around much, either, always deployed someplace far away.

I thumb the envelope and run my fingers across her pretty handwriting.

I miss you, Mom.

Taking a full deep breath, I ease back against my chair and open the first letter.

Evie, my golden Taabe,

Never in a million years did I think I’d be in this situation. Gone from you and your sister in a way that I cannot come back from. I know you’ve always hated my need to wander, as it took me away from you and Suda Kaye, but you were never far from my mind or my heart. Never unloved.

I had to chase my dreams, Taabe. One day, you’ll understand.

My greatest hope is that you know my love for you transcends any reality, location or final destination. It is as the sun, shining brightly each day. Never ending, always warm, forever shedding light onto you and your sister.

With me gone, without the burden of having to take care of me and Suda Kaye, I want you to think long and hard about what it is you want in life. Just you. Think big. Live out loud.

What is still out there to explore?

Where in the world do you see yourself visiting? What new journey have you wished to undertake?

Think of all the beauty I’ve shared through my stories and photos over the years. Those experiences are a huge part of me. And I’m so grateful I had them. It gave me the ability to open your eyes to the fact that anything in life is possible.

My only regret was having to leave you and your sister behind. Though I hope now, you will take time out for yourself.

Evie, you are so grounded. Your feet firmly rooted to God’s green earth. Pull those roots, my lovely girl. Break away from all that keeps you still and give yourself an experience unlike any other. Perhaps then you will understand my need to go, to feel the wind in my hair, the sand between my toes, the gravel under my boots. I lived every moment to the fullest and I want that for you so deeply.

Please take the inheritance I left you and use it to live.

See the world, my precious girl.

With all my love,

Mom

I grind down on my teeth and wipe my nose with the back of my hand. I fold my letter into thirds and stuff it back into the envelope. Clearing my throat, I flatten my hand along the front before lifting it to my nose and inhaling the familiar scent of citrus with a hint of patchouli.

“Smells like her.” I clear my throat as a traitorous tear slides down my cheek.

Suda Kaye sniffs her letter and smiles sadly. “Mom always said if you’re going to smell like anything, let it be natural. Fruit and spice.”

“And everything nice!” I chuckle, then sigh as the weight of everything in my letter festers in my heart and soul, mixing with the intense sorrow I haven’t shaken off in the six months since she passed.

“I miss her. Sometimes I pretend she’s just gone off on another one of her adventures, you know? Then I can be pissed off and plan out all the catty things I’m going to say to her when she finally returns with a suitcase full of dirty clothes and presents to smooth over the hurt.”

My sister gasps and her stunning amber eyes fill with more tears. “Evie, she didn’t want to leave…”

I fist my hands, rekindling the anger that never seems to disappear when I think of all the years we might have had with her. “Not this time, Kaye, but what about all the other times? Years and years of time lost. And for what?” I huff and stand, pacing our small room with Mom’s letters plastered to my chest like a well-loved teddy bear. “Fun. Wild experiences. Adventures! It killed her. This need to see the greener grass on the other side.” Scowling, I point at myself. “Well, that won’t be me. No way. No how. I’ve got my feet firmly planted on terra firma. I’m going to finish school, get my bachelor’s in finance, then my master’s, and make something of myself. And I’m going to be happy!”

How I’m going to be happy without my mother in my life, I don’t know. I never knew how to fill the hole she left with each adventure she took. It just seemed that the void got bigger and bigger. But my mother…she was such a glorious woman, an incredible presence when she was there. She could easily fill up that gaping wound that I call my heart each and every time she came back.

Finding that the pacing isn’t doing much, I toss my stack of letters onto the chair and drop onto the bed next to Kaye, face planted dramatically in the crook of my arms, my nose touching the mattress as I breathe deeply and try my best not to break down in front of my baby sister.

Slowly, she strokes my hair in long, soothing sweeps of her hand. Once I’ve gotten myself under control emotionally—for now, that is—I turn over.

“What did your letter say?” I ask. Kaye licks her lips and glances away. We don’t have any secrets from one another, but I can tell this is one she’d rather keep from me. Eventually she caves and hands me her letter. Pulling myself up, I sit cross-legged and read out loud.

“‘Suda Kaye, my little huutsuu.’” I cover my mouth and close my eyes. The last word comes out as a croak. Mom’s nickname for Suda Kaye meant “little bird” in Comanche. Huutsuu to my Taabe. My sister has always been the one up for a grand adventure. She could make going grocery shopping the highlight of anyone’s week with her dramatic flair and interest in all things. Same goes for a laundromat, the car wash, a walk around the neighborhood. Always something to experience, to see, hear, sense. My sister soaks up life like a sponge until she’s wrung out, and then starts all over again. That apple did not fall far from the tree, much to my dismay.

She smiles wide. “Always and forever, Taabe,” she responds. Not wanting to make Suda Kaye more emotional, I quickly read her letter. With every sentence my heart sinks. Basically, Mom has told my sister to leave home. To get in her car and travel the world, starting with the States. To leave me in order to allow me to find my own calling, without the worry of my baby sister there to hold me back. My stomach churns and acid creeps up my throat as I read the last couple sentences that tell her that if Camden, Suda Kaye’s longtime boyfriend, truly loves her, he will set her free.

My hands shake as I pass it back to her, my entire body stiff as a board. I feel as though I’ve been staked through the heart and left for dead.

My mother wants my sister—my best friend—to leave me.

To go away for as long as it took for Mom to find herself.

“You’re not going to do it, are you?” I ask, the fear clear in my tone.

She bites down on the side of her cheek and nods.

“Kaye…you can’t do that. What about Camden? He won’t understand. A guy like that…the life he wants to give you. No way. You just…” I let out a breath, grab my sister’s hands and squeeze, trying to transfer all the worry and fear I’ll experience with her leaving me behind. And yet I don’t say a word. In this moment, she has to make the choice that’s right for her.

I swallow down the lump of emotion swelling in my throat and whisper, “What are you going to do?” She stares into my eyes, right through to my soul, and says the five words I never wanted to hear from her.

“I’m going to fly free.”

I close my eyes, lean forward to kiss her forehead. “I love you, Suda Kaye.” It’s the only thing I can say. It’s raw, honest and life-changing.

“You know you could come with me?” Her voice fills with hope, but the last thing she needs is me tying her down, trying to run her life for her. Mom made that very clear in her letter. Heck, she made it clear in mine.

Shaking my head, I cup her soft cheek. “You have to make your own choices.”

She nods, folds up her letter, puts it back in the envelope and then ties up the stack in a bundle once more.

My sister, not one to let grass grow under her feet, pulls the big suitcase from under her bed that Mom gave her for graduation and sets it on the comforter. Methodically, without saying a word, I help my sister pack her things. The last item she puts on top of her clothes is a picture of me, Mom and her, taken last year before Mom became too sick. It had been a good day; we’d had a picnic in the park. Laughing, snacking and listening to our mother share one story after another.

I knew then that those good days would be few and far between, so I encouraged her storytelling, while Suda Kaye ate up every ounce as though it were her very favorite dish.

Holding hands, I walk my sister to her car and put her suitcase in the trunk.

“Do you know where you’ll go after you see Camden?” I ask, knowing she wouldn’t leave without seeing him first.

She smiles and shrugs. “We’re in the middle of the country. I’m going to pick a direction and just keep driving until I get too tired. Then I’ll stop and decide where I’m meant to be next.”

“You call me. I’ll come get you anywhere, any place. No matter w-what.” My voice shakes as I pull her into my arms and inhale her fragrance—cherry-scented shampoo and lotion. I allow the scent to imprint on my memory bank for I know I’ll need it in the lonely months, maybe even years, to come.

Suda Kaye walks around her car and opens the driver’s side door. “Miss me,” she says, and the deluge of tears falls from my eyes like a waterfall.

“Miss me more,” I whisper, and hold up my hand.

She mimics the gesture, placing her palm against mine. “Always.”

Then I watch for a long time as my sister’s taillights eventually fade and disappear into the black night. Before long, I look up into the open sky and the wealth of sparkling stars blanketing the sky like diamonds over black velvet.

I pick a star and make the same wish I’ve been making since I was a child. “One of these days, I wish someone I love would stay.”

Excerpted from To Catch a Dream by Audrey Carlan Copyright © Audrey Carlan. Published by HQN Books.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

AudreyCarlan is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 40 novels, including the worldwide phenomenon 
Calendar Girl serial, and her books have been translated into more than 30 languages across the globe. Audrey lives in the California Valley with her two children and the love of her life.

SOCIAL:
Author Website: https://audreycarlan.com/
Twitter: @AudreyCarlan