Review: Haven by Kay Hooper

The Particulars: Romantic Suspense, Jove, available in print and as e-book
The Source: Purchased at Kobo
The Grade: C+
The Blurb:
Another nightmare, in the woods this time. Different: She was running. Trying to escape.

But the same ending. Always the same ending. Another dead girl…

Emma Rayburn was born and raised in Baron Hollow, North Carolina, and it was a quiet life. Then came the accident…and the nightmares—each filled with unshakable visions of darkness, blind panic, and desperate women chased toward inevitable death. With no reports of local women missing or found dead, Emma has written it off to troubled imaginings—night after dreaded night. Until her sister arrives.

Jessie Rayburn, psychic investigator for a firm called Haven, has been estranged from Emma for years. Unresolved issues from Jessie’s past have not only kept them apart but have been clouding Jessie’s unique abilities. A return to her hometown to face a dark and violent incident from years gone by is her chance to regain them. But reconciliation with the past comes with a price. Few people in Baron Hollow are welcoming Jessie back. No one dares to breathe a word. And in this conspiracy of silence, Emma’s nightmares are becoming more vivid than ever.

Even with the help of Noah Bishop, head of the FBI Special Crimes Unit and co-founder of Haven, Jessie and Emma soon find themselves outnumbered by the secrets buried in Baron Hollow—and outrunning an evil that has been festering for years, one that’s targeting Jessie and Emma one last time

The Review:
I discovered Kay Hooper purely by coincidence a couple of years ago, and I promptly devoured her backlist. But then, she switched publishers and moved to hardcover, so I decided to wait until this book was out in mass market. And after reading it, I have a bit of mixed feelings.
It was interesting to explore Baron Hollow from Jessie’s POV and see how it had changed from the last time she was home. I liked how not all of the changes were good changes.
It was interesting to follow Emma and Jessie as they tried to build a relationship. What I also liked was that it didn’t happen over night. I liked Jessie’s motivation for returning sense, which made sense. But… sometimes I wished Jessie wasn’t so secretive. That she dared to open up, to talk to Emma. Emma had her own issues that she struggled with, both the fact that they existed, and that she wasn’t sure if she should tell Jessie or not.
Nathan was an outsider, and had his own reasons for being in Baron Hollow. I liked him. He felt… grounded in away that Emma needed.
The plot was well crafted, and I really liked how the different plot threads were connected. From Jessie’s poking around, to Emma’s secret and Nathan’s blood hound gift. All of them contained a part of the solution. The romance between Nathan and Emma was sweet, even if it wasn’t without issues.
That said, I had one big problem with this book. It didn’t feel like a Romantic Suspense novel. It felt more like Mystery novel, with some paranormal elements tossed in. Maybe a big reason for that was that it felt like Ms Hooper had picked several plot elements from her previous novels and reused them. And, to be frank, those previous books were much better.

Review: Darkhouse by Karina Halle

The Particulars: Paranormal Suspense, Smashwords, available as e-book
The Source: Smashwords
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:
There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts.

Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems

The Review:
Mandi at Smexybooks raved about Sins and Needles, which made me curious about Karina Halle. When I went to Smashwords, I discovered that this one was free so I downloaded it. I am glad I did.
I liked Perry a lot. She felt very normal with her complains about her boring job, her uncertainty what to do in the future and her family’s pressure. I also liked that she was scared to death while investigating the lighthouse.
This isn’t a romance, but I could sense something between Dex and Perry. I liked how she was torn between frustration that he didn’t call and hope that she might get a kick in her career.
The Oregon setting fit this story to the T, and I loved how the author used the history of the place to increase the suspense.
The plot hooked me from the start. The tension rose slowly, until I couldn’t keep on reading, since it was late and I feared I would get nightmares if I kept reading. Yes, it was that scary. Also, I’ll never look at flashbacks in the same way again. Normally, flashbacks makes me DNF a book, but not here. Here, the flashbacks were a vital part of story, and increased the sense of danger in the story.
That said, I felt that there was too many unanswered questions at the end of the story. But maybe I’ll find out more in the next book.