1. Divine Evil
Why this is my favourite: It is so dark! What can be darker than a cult of men who believe they are torturing and murdering young women for a divine purpose? And yes, Nora gets right into the itty gritty of descriptive detail, so this isn't a book for the faint hearted.
Plot Summary: Renowned sculptor Clare returns to her hometown to find answers to the nightmares that haunt her surrounding her father's suicide. The teenage badboy turned town sheriff Cameron had loved Clare from afar throughout high school and now that she's back in town, they grow closer and begin a passionate romance. But Clare's return sparks a vengeance and soon Clare and Cameron realise evil lurks everywhere ... even in those they love and trust.
The Characters: Clare is a relatable heroine who is haunted by her father's death and what she may or may not have seen in the forest that night. Cameron is a lovable hero - hot, the town sheriff, with a badboy history and a motorbike to boot!
The Romance: Passionate, hilarious, and very hot. It is almost a fling, sort of 'Best Friend's Sibling', and very much a 'He has always loved her' trope romance.
The Suspense: Gripping and dark. Very, very dark. Murder ... rape ... kidnapping, the works! The murders just keep piling up in this book.
What Makes it Memorable: The nightmares it leaves you with ... so if you don't like the gory details of awful crimes, this book may not be for you.
Why this is my favourite: Two words: Magicians! Thieves! Or, thieving magicians! Also, the conflict ... there is a lot of emotional turmoil and external conflict in this story.
Plot Summary: Honest Illusions is time progression story, which covers Roxanne and Luke's story from childhood through to their twenties. It begins in a present day prologue, which tells us at one point Luke left Roxanne, but knowing this keeps you flipping the pages to find out why. And who wants to destroy their relationship? This is a gutwrenching emotional moment for Roxanne in the book. But upon Luke's return, he's set on seeking revenge on the evil villain in a suspense that continues to keep you flipping the pages.
The Characters: Roxanne is the daughter of world-renowned magician who has inherited both her father's magic skills and knack for thievery. As has Luke, who holds secrets that can shatter Roxanne's illusions.
The Romance: As a time progression story, it takes Roxanne and Luke many years to accept their attraction for each other, making for a tense and frustrating read. But when they do start their Friends-to-Lovers romance, it's totally worth it. Until the evil guy steps in and Luke makes the hardest decision of all. He's forced to leave her, conflict escalates, and when he returns, they're swept into a wonderful Reunion romance where Roxanne needs to find forgiveness and Luke needs to make amends ... and get his revenge.
The Suspense: This book made me mad. The villain is a petty blackmailer with a grudge he should have just let go. He is twisted and needs to be shot for putting Roxanne and Luke through what he does! But never mind ... Roxanne and Luke manage to work it out. And win.
What Makes it Memorable: The twist and the fact that it's set over a long period adds to the tension. Also, the mix of magic and thieves. I just love that.
Why this is my favourite: The tension in yet another time progression story. The story and conflict just keeps building until you cannot put it down. Like a roller coaster, this book just keeps going up and down, up and down, and you just don't want it to end. I think I read this book quicker than I've ever read any other. And I'm a very slow reader.
Plot Summary: This book covers Emma's life from the age of four, when her father rescued her from her worthless mother, to her mid-twenties, when she'd fallen in love and is on the verge of a very successful career. Emma grows up in the limelight as the daughter of a rockstar and her childhood was practically a fairytale ... until the night a botched kidnap attempt on her baby brother left him dead and Emma with a head injury that affected her memory. Her amnesia manages to keep her safe over the following years ... but it is a secret that someone will kill to keep.
The Characters: Emma is the privileged daughter of a rockstar who seeks a successful career as a photographer. She forms a friendship with Michael, the son of the detective who investigates her brother's murder. Michael has also become a homicide detective and is a down to earth beta-hero. One of the key elements that keep Emma and Michael separated is that he grows up and remains in LA while she splits her time between London and New York. But every trip to LA always seems to land her directly in Michael's path. Like fate, or something ...
The Romance: Emma and Michael meet a couple of times during childhood and their teens and form some sort of friendship. When they meet again in their early twenties, Michael develops feelings for Emma. However, Michael misses his chance and Emma ends up marrying another man. This relationship goes south quickly and becomes abusive. So when Emma decides to leave him, she flees New York for LA and who does she run into? Michael! And this time, Michael is not going to miss his chance.
The Suspense: Who killed Emma's brother? This is the underlying question throughout the novel, but there are other subplots such as Emma's abusive husband. How she deals with him is the best part of the book! But I won't ruin anything there. Basically, the suspense in this novel is seeded in the cold, unsolved case and the fact that the kidnapper/murderer managed to get away with killing the little boy. But when Michael reopens the case some twenty years later, the killer becomes restless and is willing to kill again. Especially as Emma's memory appears to be coming back ...
What Makes it Memorable: All the missed opportunities makes this for a tension filled read. Emma and Michael continue to make the wrong choices, so you want to read to see them get past these mistakes. Then you just want to see them get together. Plus, the way Emma gets rid of her ex-husband is just gold!
4. Montana Sky
Why this is my favourite: Apart from the fact it's set on a sprawling Montana ranch and features a number of sexy cowboys, I love this book for one reason - lots of murder, graphic detail, and three separate romances!
Plot Summary: When Jack Mercy dies, he leaves his ranch to his three daughters who have never met. Tess just wants to collect her cash and get back home, Lily is on the run from her ex-husband and finds refuge on the ranch, and Willa finds the presence of her sisters an intrusion. After all, she grew up there and she should inherit. But in order for any of them to inherit their twenty million ranch, they must live on the ranch together for one year. So, while strangers, the sisters must put their differences aside and work together if they want to escape the danger that befalls them when somebody starts killing ...
The Characters: Tess is a screenwriter from Hollywood with no interest in a ranch in the middle of nowhere Montana. Country life is not for her and to live there for a whole year is a terrible inconvenience. So she may as well pass the time by having a torrid affair with the sexy lawyer Nate. Then there is Lily, timid and seeking refuge from her ex-husband. She connects with Willa's maternal half-brother Adam, a sexy half-Indian cowboy who will do anything to protect her. Then there is Willa, the feisty and annoyed cowgirl who wishes everyone would leave her alone to run the ranch - especially her neighbour Ben, who her father had placed as overseer.
The Romance: Tess and Nate engage in a very fun fling with lots of sex, neither of them believing they want anything more. After all, she's only there for a year before she's back in Hollywood. Their story is fun because, after all, you know they'll seek commitment eventually and you want to keep reading to find out how that happens. Then there is Adam and Lily. They become friends first considering Lily's history, but she begins to fall for Adam and realises that she could have a kind and loving relationship with a happy life on the ranch. Then there is Willa and Ben ... like any good neighbours and people with opposing goals, they fight and snipe and resist attraction before giving into the inevitable. I liked this book because I like to have a lot going on in a story, so three romances and six main characters totally worked for me.
The Suspense: While there are a lot of people who live and work on Mercy Ranch, the place is isolated. Therefore, when someone begins killing people who pass through, it has to be one of their own. But who? And why? This book keeps you turning as each sister begins to suspect different people and soon, no one knows who they should trust.
What Makes it Memorable: Three love stories, a lot of tension, and a lot of stake when a ranch worth twenty million dollars is practically up for grabs. There is a lot of descriptive murders and assaults in this book, but when you're writing about horrible stuff, I don't see the point in holding back!
Why this is my favourite: I loved the villain in this book. That revelation was one of the biggest twists of all. There is a lot going on in this book with a few murders, shootings, interesting family dynamics, and an unforgettable love story.
Plot Summary: After a relationship gone bad, Caroline goes to her grandparent's house - which she's inherited - in Mississippi for some well deserved rest. But rest is not on the cards for Caroline when she meets and becomes attracted to Tucker, a man whose ex-girlfriends start turning up dead.
The Characters: Caroline is a world-class violinist who worked herself to a fainting spell on a world tour. Tucker is a rich southern playboy who lives on his plantation, manages his family affairs, and prefers to keep his relationships in the no-strings-attached category. Until he meets Caroline.
The Romance: Caroline and Tucker end up more or less friends first, especially considering he seems to be linked to the number of murders that show up near his house. But Tucker is not a serial killer and they fall in love. This romance is not as tense as some of the others I've mentioned, but it is sweet and memorable just the same.
The Suspense: There are a number of murders in this book and the suspense is based around 'who is killing these women?' Tucker is an obvious suspect, but he's our hero so it cannot be him. But who else would want Tucker's ex's dead? And why? Plus, there's the father who wants revenge on Tucker as he is dead set on believing Tucker murdered his daughter. There's just a lot going on in this book with many interesting characters so you never know what's going to happen next.
What Makes it Memorable: The identity and motive of the killer and the personal impact this has on Tucker.
Other Memorable Books
Birthright - I love this one for the reunion romance between 'divorced' Callie and Jake, plus the archaeological dig and the baby-snatching backstory.
Homeport - This is a fav for one reason - hot art thief Ryan Boldari!
Carolina Moon - An cold-case murder with a paranormal storyline that reveals a serial killer. I also love the romance between Tori and Cade, as well as the bonus secondary romance between Faith and Wade.
The Reef - This was the first romantic suspense I read of Nora's and I love it because it's a treasure hunt.
The Witness - Two words - Russian Mafia!
The Collector - Another two words - Faberge Eggs!
Rachel is a writer of romance fiction with vast interests in travel, theatre, sport, and everything books. This blog is a fun feed where Rachel lists her Top 5 of whatever inspires her.