Review: Distorted by Christy Barritt

With each book she writes, Christy Barritt continues to wow me. How does she manage to draw me into the thick of things, leave me in suspense, wanting answers from those first pages? Every. Single. Time. Distorted (available June 20, 2017) is no exception.

After one year of living a waking nightmare, Mallory Baldwin is determined to move on. In order to do that, she embarks on a book tour to raise awareness of the epidemic of human trafficking. While attempting to gain strength and courage, Mallory still is afraid of the dark, fights nightmares of her time in captivity, and is uncomfortable with any physical contact.

Distorted Christy Barritt
When she receives threats and starts to see the man who held her against her will, Mallory’s manager calls in reinforcements in the person of Tennyson Walker—the former SEAL who rescued Mallory.

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Favorite Reads of 2016

I’m often asked how I can read so many books (over 130 in 2016). The answer is a combination of two things: I live alone and I don’t watch TV. Reading is my entertainment. As this year draws to a close, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads from this year with you. And one lucky reader will win a paperback copy of a book of their choice. Just leave a comment at the end telling me what your favorite book of 2016 was.

To order any of these books, click on the title. I planned to do a top 10 list, but let’s face it, with the volume of books I read, it was too hard to narrow down to this number so you get a few extras in this list.

15. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

The conclusion of Crandall’s “Everstone Chronicles” does not disappoint. The black sheep of the family, Vance Everstone, has a reputation he’s working hard to put behind him. After years of hard living and poor choices, he’s striving to become the man God wants him to be. When he and Violet Hawthorne are found in a compromising situation, he chooses to do the right thing. This is a beautiful story of Vance’s redemption.

14. Thrill Squeaker by Christy Barritt

While a more recent book has been released in this series (and I have not had the opportunity to get to yet), the ending of this one alone makes it stand out. Add in a haunted amusement park and more adventures with Gabby St. Clair’s friends, Barritt delivers another delightful read in her Squeaky Clean Mystery series.

13. A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

The third (and final) book in the Ladies of the Manor trilogy is a series conclusion done right. My favorite characters from the other books make an appearance and the mystery and drama revolving around the Tiger Eyes diamonds comes to a fitting conclusion. All of this while watching two engaging and unique characters fall in love while convinced they aren’t worthy of the other person.

12. Emergency Response/Silent Sabotage/Christmas Conspiracy (First Responders Series) by Susan Sleeman

Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one of the books in this series by Susan Sleeman. This team is knit together so well, each of the books added to the enjoyment of the series. A unique group of law enforcement agents that includes a sniper, a bomb tech, two negotiators, an EMT, and the group leader, the First Responders team not only works together but live together as a family.

11. Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Set against the Chesapeake Bay area, the first in this new series of Pettrey’s is both an introduction to the area and to the characters—a group of friends who band together when the going gets tough. Combine an ex-SWAT team sniper and a forensic anthropologist to create a page-turning suspense that ended too soon for me. Can’t wait until the next one (Still Life) coming out at the end of January.

10. Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard

This story has so many unique features in it, things that are rare jewels in the book world, I couldn’t leave it out. Our slightly disabled heroine runs a Tiger Sanctuary, the hero is an agent with the US Fish and Wildlife services, and the constant barrage of threats against this couple kept me up late at night getting to that final page.

9. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

A story that will take you into the places under the big top most people never get to experience, Cambron’s book is a beautiful portrayal of finding their true homes. Mabel Ringling’s and Rosamund Easling’s stories are separated by twenty-five years but they are both drawn into the family of the circus (both the supportive, caring members and the jealous, vindictive ones).

8. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Tagg has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. AS another author with a new book in her series out that I have not gotten to yet, I’m definitely putting this one on the list! The Walker Family and the town of Maple Valley, Iowa will draw you into their circle and make you feel at home. When Logan Walker returns home for a long-overdue break, he doesn’t expect to butt heads with reporter Amelia Bentley. But as they chase a long-held town mystery, sparks fly between them. And you can always count on Tagg for a few smiles along with a sigh-worthy happily-ever-after.

7. Missing by Lisa Harris

First of all, the Nikki Boyd files stand out on their own. This scrappy missing persons detective is resilient and smart even if her personal life seems a little messy, her career is right on track. Harris ups her game by setting this book in my hometown (Nashville). I could imagine several places like the fictional ones described in the books. But really, I don’t think anyone has had as bad a week as Nikki Boyd has in this one. The ending of this book does leave you wanting more (good thing Pursued is due out in April 2017!)

6. Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Ask any reader of Christian Fiction for a recommendation of a good book (and more particularly, a good romantic suspense), and you’re likely to get the recommendation of Henderson’s O’Malley series. In 2016, Henderson released the first book in a brand new series (and a novella that accompanies it in the Sins of the Past Collection which also includes novellas from Dani Pettrey and Lynette Eason). Evie Blackwell has been tapped to head up a task force solving cold cases. On her first assignment, Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois and meets town Sheriff Gabriel Thane. There are a few stories weaving into this one and many of the characters from Henderson’s previous books make appearances. Another one with a few strings left undone to lead readers to a new release in…you guessed it…2017.

5. If I Run by Terry Blackstock

When I first started reading Christian Fiction, Terri Blackstock was one of the first authors I discovered with her Newport 911 series. Years later, she’s still a favorite of mine. In If I run, Casey Cox flees the scene of her best friend’s murder. With her DNA all over the place, law enforcement is bent on finding her and hires Dylan Roberts, a war-weary Vet with PTSD, to locate her. What’s unique about this book is these two characters are separated for most of the story but as Dylan learns more about Casey, his interest increases. She doesn’t seem like a murderer. “If I’m found” will be release in February 2017. And hello, these book covers are amazing. Love how they fit together to create a larger picture (just like I hope the next book does).

4. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Reay is another one of my favorite authors. Her ability to combine bits of literature (whether it be Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, or Shakespeare) is a gift. In A Portrait of Emily Price she carries it a step further into the world of art. From Atlanta Georgia to the Tuscany country side, Emily Price is a character readers will grow to love as she discovers herself and uncovers a long-held secret that could tear a family apart.

3. The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

I discovered Griep’s books last year and thoroughly enjoyed her view into middle class English society. So it was with trepidation I read this book. I mean, how can you top England? But she not only met my expectations but exceeded them in The Captive Heart. When English governess Eleanor Morgan is forced to flee her home and make her way to America, her only choice of survival is to marry a man she’s never met. Trapper and Tracker Samuel Heath lives under the shadow of the death of his wife, but his daughter needs a mother and he’s willing to go to extreme measures to make that happen. As the two embark on a journey of trusting one another, the wilderness, the rumors, and a precocious child bring them together in more ways than either expects.

2. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

This book was so much fun (as was the second book in the Herringford & Watts Mysteries). Set in Toronto, Canada in 1910, readers are taken on a Sherlock-ian adventure via two female flatmates turned amateur detectives. While most women are bent on finding husbands, Merinda and Jem are intent on finding answers to crime. Merinda’s pushy demeanor and go-get-em attitude keeps the story light and enjoyable even though the girls get in plenty of trouble along the way. Good thing they’ve got a constable and a report looking after them in their escapades.

1. Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

As mentioned before, I have an affinity for books set in England (probably because of my love for all things Jane Austen). Isaac takes Oxford England, throws in references to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series and gives readers a feel-good book that will stick with them. Amelia Mason is trying to make amends for her past choices and decisions which has led her to a non-profit organization in England. As a lover of Lewis’s famous children’s stories, she cannot resist every opportunity to crawl into wardrobes and check the back for the entrance to the magical land of Narnia. As she does just this her first night in England, someone opens the wardrobe and she falls out. Little does she know how entwined her life is about to become with former Olympic rowing hopeful Peter Carlisle. I loved these two characters! Both are hurting in their own ways and Amelia really needs Jesus.

There you have it, my favorite reads of this year. Have you read any of them? What book (or books) did you enjoy most this year? Leave a comment with the title(s) and on Jan 15, I will choose a winner who can book a book of their choice from my list.

Thanks for stopping by! Here’s to more great reads in 2017!

Dust and Obey by Christy Barritt

A little over two years ago, I stumbled upon a book called Hazardous Dutyabout a crime scene cleaner who stumbled into a murder investigation. Now I await every new adventure in Gabby St. Clair’s life (in addition to Christy Barritt’s other romantic suspense titles). Dust and Obey marks the tenth book in the series and I still cannot get enough of what’s happening in Gabby and her friends’ lives. Fans of this series will be thrilled to know that Riley Thomas lays a very prominent role in this book.

dust and obey

While driving home from a training session for her new job, Gabby receives a phone call from her ex-fiancé in which he asks her to help investigate the murder of a co-worker’s wife. The problem? The investigation will take place on an island. And Riley will be there. And the purpose of these weekend retreats is marriage counseling. Determined to protect her heart from getting smashed to pieces again, Gabby agrees to act the part of Riley’s wife. But narrowing down the suspect pool proves challenging as does avoiding her emotions.

dust and obey quote

Christy Barritt is a master of infusing humor into stories that would otherwise be tense and emotionally fraught. Gabby’s quirky character remains evident throughout the book—complete with randomly bursting into song, creating her own titles for her songs, and her concern and compassion for her friends. Her first session at the retreat is sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. But at the same time you will sense Gabby’s confusion, heartache, and turmoil.

Also, if you have not read the novella, While You Were Sweeping, written from Riley’s perspective during his separation from Gabby, you might want to check that out before delving into this book as it definitely gave me some great perspective on what Riley was hoping for from these three weekends away with Gabby.

Available for order here

Dubiosity by Christy Barritt

A couple years ago, I came across a little gem of a book called Hazardous Duty written by a new-to-me author named Christy Barritt. After reading that first book, I devoured the rest of the Squeaky Clean mysteries that were available at that time and have watched for the new books in the series to be released (there are nine right now with more on the way). When I received Barritt’s December newsletter and saw a new book with new characters in a new setting, I wrote the release date, January 13, down in my calendar. The title alone was intriguing. When I found it was available to review, I jumped at the opportunity.

dubiosity quote

Savannah Harris is slogging through her new life. A life a guilt and melancholy. She blames herself for pushing to hard and is forcing herself to pay for her mistakes. When she’s called to the bedside of a dying migrant worker, and he tells her he was murdered, Savannah is skeptical. Then her best friend mentions a couple of other migrant workers who have gone missing. As Savannah questions what is going on, worrisome incidents begin to happen. And then there’s the matter of her new border. Clive Miller makes her feel things she doesn’t want to feel and even he has a secret.

This book is a little darker than the Squeaky Clean mysteries but no less engaging. While Savannah is melancholy and hiding out in her home, glimpses of her true personality sneak through from the beginning. As she investigates, more and more of her former self, a likable woman, come through. I love a good mystery and Dubiosity offered that by keeping me guessing until the end. I flip flopped on who I thought was behind everything (yes, it involves more than murder and disappearances) throughout the book and was still guessing when the villain was revealed. The book has a definite theme of redemption running through it with both Savannah and Clive coming to terms with their pasts.

Put this one on your list folks, available from Amazon January 15.

****Waterfall Press, via Netgalley, provided me with a free copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest and fair review.