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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review - - Watch Your Back


PJ here.  I'm delighted to welcome Manda Collins today, not in her role as a published author but as a book reviewer. Manda will be joining us from time to time to share her thoughts about books in one of her favorite romance sub-genres:  romantic suspense. Today, Manda is reviewing the newly-released Watch Your Back by Karen Rose. Welcome, Manda!




Watch Your Back
By Karen Rose
Publisher:  Signet
Release Date: February 4, 2014





                I've had mad love for Karen Rose ever since she happily autographed her entire backlist for me at a RWA conference some years back. It's rare that an author even gets her most recent book, let alone her entire backlist to sign at the RWA publisher signings—so her publisher must have known just how good she was!

                But what really tipped me over the edge to fangirl was her writing, and her latest WATCH YOUR BACK is easily one of her best.

                On medical leave from being shot in the previous book, Baltimore cop Stevie (Stefania) Mazzetti  has been going through her former partner's cases with a fine toothed comb in her down time, looking for anything untoward. You see, her former partner was in the pay of a very powerful man who paid to see to it that his enemies were punished while his friends got off scot free.  And Stevie wants to right the wrongs he committed, in part because she feels responsible for not having realized he was dirty. 

                          But Stevie has more issues than just a gunshot wound to deal with. She's also still recovering emotionally from the seemingly random shooting deaths of her husband and small son some years ago. And that has left her terrified to fall in love again. So much so that when former Marine turned Private Investigator Clay Maynard tries to turn their sizzling attraction into a relationship she turns him down flat. But when a sniper takes a shot at her on the anniversary of her husband and son's deaths, then tries again later at her house, she'll have to deal with Clay's presence in her life whether she wants him there or not. He's in protective mode and it will take more than Stevie's protests to keep him from doing what needs to be done to keep her safe.

                What follows is a twisting, turning tale of betrayal, sins of the past, and an arch villain who will stop at nothing to see to it that no one discovers he is the mastermind behind years of terror. As is her usual MO, Karen Rose has created a world in this Baltimore setting that seems so real you want to visit there. There are several threads of plot that carry over from the previous books in the series, and though I think it could be read as a standalone, to get the full effect it would be best to read those first.     
          
                One thing that is especially fun in any Karen Rose book is playing spot the walk-ons from other series and books. In this case, it's Stevie's friend and self-help guru, Emma , and her husband Christopher, who were the stars of Rose's novella "Dirty Secrets" from the anthology Hot Pursuit. And of course we get to see the couples from the previous books in the series, and various other secondary characters that populate her Baltimore world.

                Overall, I think this is one of Rose's strongest books, and I hope this won't end her time in Baltimore. I've grown to love these people and their friendships and loves and I will be sorry if we don't get to see more relationships develop among them. But knowing Karen Rose, even if she does decide to move the main action of her books somewhere else, we'll see these characters again someday as walk-ons in someone else's romance.

~Manda Collins
http://mandacollins.com


Manda Collins writes smart, sexy historical romance laced with a touch of mystery.  Manda still lives in her native coastal Alabama where she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college.  Her most recent book, Why Earls Fall in Love, the second in her Wicked Widows trilogy, was released by St. Martin's on January 28, 2014.  You can find more information about Manda and her books at her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.


               

                

19 comments:

  1. Hi Manda! It's going to be so nice to see you here as a contributor to TRD! I can't wait to read "Why Earls Fall in Love" as well as WATCH YOUR BACK.

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    1. I agree! We're thrilled to add Manda's expertise to our review team. You're in for a treat with Why Earls Fall in Love. It's a keeper!

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    2. Thanks, Flora! I'm excited to be here too! And thanks for the love for my book as well as Karen Rose's. She's so good!

      Thanks for the kind words, PJ!

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  2. Congratulations on a stellar debut with the dishes, Manda! I think Karen Rose is an awesome writer, but her books scare me. I confess that I'm a wimpy reader, and some romantic suspense gets too close to the real for my sensibilities.

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    1. LOL! I'm with you, Janga. I adore Karen Rose as a person and I like romantic suspense but her books never fail to scare me. I have to make sure I read them in daylight!

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    2. I don't blame you, Janga. Her books aren't for everyone. And she's definitely made me think twice about quite a few aspects of life in our uberconnected world. Technology can be as scary as blood and guts sometimes Thanks for the welcome!

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  3. Karen Rose writes wonderful books and I'm sure this another great one. Thanks for the review!!

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    1. She's a very talented writer, isn't she?

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Catslady! It was definitely a keeper!

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  4. Nice review!

    I love romantic suspense and am currently working through the J D Robb 'In Death' series.
    The Karen Rose books sound rather similar. Is Rose as good as Nora Roberts for suspense?

    I can't resist trying new (for me) authors and like to be frightened out of my shoes .... good excuse to top up my glass with scotch. :)

    If they frighten Janga I reckon I might like these!

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    1. Hi Q! I don't read J.D. Robb so I can't make a comparison. Hopefully, Manda or one of our readers who reads both will be able to answer your question.

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    2. Q, I've only read one of the JD Robb series and compared to that Karen Rose seems more frightening. I think since Robb uses the same detective duo every time, that gives you a bit of distance from the crime. But in the Rose books, she has a new hero and heroine every time and you're reading about the crimes from their POV, which makes it more immediate since usually the heroine (or sometimes the hero) are the ones being targeted by the unknown killer.

      My favorite Karen Rose is still the very first one I read--YOU CAN'T HIDE, but they're all great. I think if you like Robb you'll like Rose too.

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  5. Welcome aboard, Manda! We're thrilled to have you join us. :) Thanks for this terrific review!

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  6. Thanks for the heads up and great review. Karen Rose is definitely on my favorite author list, and I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carey! I'm looking forward to the release of your next book too. :)

      Readers, Carey writes edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense. Her next book, CONFESSION will be released March 11th and she'll be our guest here at TRD on March 12th.

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  7. Manda, thanks for the terrific review! I also love Karen's books and am looking forward to this one. I share your hope that this won't be the end of the Baltimore series.

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  8. Manda, Thank you so much for the review. Karen Rose has been on my radar for several years now and I have several of her books in my TBR mountain. The blurbs for her book attracted me and they "feel" like the kind of books I will really enjoy. I am going to have to find her books that I do have and fill in the series. Then I will have to find time to have a Karen Rose reading marathon.

    I need to plead guilty to having one or two of yours buried in the TBR Black Hole. There are just too many good authors writing good books that just beg to be written. I keep buying and hoping someday I will have enough time to read them all.

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