Straight for the Kill (Benoit and Dayne Mystery Book 3) by Winter Austin – Review by Tara Johnson Barnes

Straight for the Kill (Benoit and Dayne Mystery, #3)Straight for the Kill by Winter Austin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Benoit’s best friend died of an accidental overdose 25 years ago. Elizabeth suspected that there might have been more to the case but chose to push those feelings aside and move forward. Lila Dayne is a Deputy working in the same department as Elizabeth Benoit who discovers the body of another young girl twenty five years later who has died under similar circumstances. Lila chooses to move forward with the case without involving Elizabeth but that does not go well. As Sheriff of the department not only is she Lila’s superior but it also becomes personal for Elizabeth because of the loss of her friend in a similar manner years prior.

As Lila digs deeper into the case she comes up with a list of suspects but nothing concrete. As Lila struggles to pinpoint a main suspect in the case important members of the community suddenly vanish. This leads Lila to believe that there is something bigger at work and that there is more to this case than she originally thought. Elizabeth has tried to stay away from the case due to the personal issues of it, but when her sister suddenly vanishes, she must do everything she can to find her. Elizabeth and Lila must team up to solve the case and bring the murderer to justice. Will they be able to find out in time before more people vanish?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat and was action packed out of the gate. Both Lila and Elizabeth are smart, strong, independent, feisty, kick-ass women who do not back down from a challenge. I found myself cheering them on and trying to crack the case along with them. A highly suspenseful, action packed read!

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Hush, My Darling (Benoit and Dayne Mystery Book 2) by Winter Austin – Review by Tara Johnson Barnes

Hush, My Darling (Benoit and Dayne Mystery, #2)Hush, My Darling by Winter Austin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lila Dayne is a Deputy with Eckhardt County who survived an attack on her life by a serial killer. Two years later she is haunted by the memories of that vicious attack. Still running from that night and trying to overcome her fears she is desperate for a fresh start. Even after moving to a small part of southeast Iowa, Lila is unable to shake her fears of constantly being watched.

Elizabeth Benoit is the new Sheriff of the department in Eckhardt County where Lila is now working as a Deputy. Elizabeth is quickly thrown from her task of stopping corruption into the solving of murder when dead bodies suddenly start to appear. The murders are freakishly similar to those of a serial killer who left bodies along the I-80. When one of the bodies portrays a sinister message directed at a member of the department it sets off a chain of events that has one member spiral out of control.

I loved this book and found myself really invested in Lila and her story. I could feel her fear and experienced the terror that went along with her as she fought through the things that triggered her. As I read along and followed her on her journey I found myself trying to solve the mystery of who the serial killer was and why they were after Lila. I was compelled to read through in one sitting to find out what was going to become of Lila and solve the mystery along with Lila and Elizabeth. I was on pins and needles as the story unfolded. This book is full of action, suspense, mystery, and intrigue. I highly recommend!

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The Exchange by Nadija Mujagic – Review by Tara Johnson Barnes

The Exchange: A NovelThe Exchange: A Novel by Nadija Mujagic
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After graduation Sam leaves her small hometown behind her to move to LA and start a career in acting. Once in LA it is not as easy as Sam was hoping that it would be nor is life as she had expected. Her apartment is rundown, the neighborhood she lives in is rampant with crime, and her money is running out. Things start to look up for Sam when she lands a meeting with a talent agent, but her hopes are quickly dashed when the agent rejects her. With her hopes and dreams suddenly shattered Sam starts to look for a job to make ends meet. She finds a small coffee shop that hires her immediately and she eagerly accepts the job.

While at work an attractive man comes into the coffee shop and flirts with Sam who instantly becomes smitten with him. Cory promises her that he can help her with her acting career and takes her under his wing. He helps her out of her desperate situation and offers her a room in his house where she can feel safe. It does not take long before Sam realizes that something is not right with her living situation but with nowhere else to go, and no money, or job, she brushes off her uneasy feeling. When Sam becomes pregnant Cory offers a proposition that seems too good to be true. He can make all her acting dreams come true in exchange for her child.

Four years go by, and Sam is living a normal life and raising her child on her own. When her child suddenly goes missing without a trace Sam wonders if Cory has made good on the deal and taken her child. She is desperate to find her son, at any cost, but what will that cost be? To what lengths will Sam go to in order to save her child?

This book was a brilliant read and I instantly fell in love with the character of Sam. She was smart, determined, strong, and never gave up hope no matter how dire the situation became. She kept her wits about her when most others would have given up all hope and fallen into despair. Cory was superficially charming but something sinister lurked under the surface. This book took some twists and turns that I did not suspect coming and they caught me off-guard. To say that Sam was clever is an understatement. Wow, just wow! I will not spoil it; you will have to read it for yourself. Brilliantly written!

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