Guns and Roses

The mystery writers of an excellent blog decided to write an anthology. Each story must have a gun and a rose. So, Murder She Writes presents Guns and Roses.

This book has ten stories written by some top notch authors. Some of them are New York Times best selling authors and they are bringing some of their favorite characters/series to this book.

The opening story, Pick Your Poison by Roxanne St. Claire should cement your interest. This story is from her Bullet Catcher series. You don’t have to know this series to absolutely love this story. She didn’t skimp on the detail or action even though this is a short story. The main characters are superb and when Benjamin does a MacGyver move, it was perfection. There’s a lot packed into this story which is shocking. It also had me wondering why I had never read any of these books.

I was sure that the next story couldn’t match up with the first and I was so wrong. Nightfall by Laura Griffin is intense. Was it a case of mistaken identity that got Holly shot at or did she see something or someone she shouldn’t have? Who can she trust and if she doesn’t get the order of flowers delivered on time, her sister, Heather, and she won’t have the money they need to pay the bills! The suspense was terrific and the touch of romance made it even better.

Selena Black gets really involved with her cases as a detective in the sex crimes unit. Maybe it was because she was date raped as a college student and no one believed her. This time she knows who the rapist is but until she has an air tight case, no judge is going to give her the time of day due to the rapist being a high-profile attorney. The only person she feels she can trust is her surgeon boyfriend. This book delivers a fantastic twist and a lot of layers in a few short pages. Above Reproach by Allison Brennan leaves you wondering.

I’ve heard about Lori Armstrong’s Julie Collins series for quite a while but I’ve never read one until now with Dead Flowers. The characters of Julie and Tony Martinez are intense. There is a touch of danger surrounding them. Tony may be walking a fine line between legal and illegal which Julie finds life as a PI doing surveillance against cheating spouses boring. However, this book is anything but boring! Julie thinks Tony is cheating on her and she’s willing to go through his guards to get to the truth and Tony. Expect rough and tumble in this story, though there is some romance there too.

Blood and Roses by Sylvia Day is a reunion story, of sorts. Insurance investigator Anastasia Miller left her home town years ago. She had to. Her family makes their money on the wrong side of the law and the love of her life, Jake Monroe, was going into law enforcement. Now, though, she’s got to come back. Her brother and unknown to Jake, his younger brother have stolen rose-hued pink diamonds. She knows her mother is suppose to be the fence. But, the moment she steps back, the connection between her and Jake is there. Is there any solution to this mess? I thoroughly enjoyed them trying to figure it out. Things didn’t go like anyone planned and it made for a very enjoyable story.

Resisting Rebel by Karin Tabke has a Black ex-Marine turned small town cop while waiting to move to the big city working in a predominately white college town. Detective Cash Cantrell is called in when a young coed is found dead in a frat house. While looking for evidence, he opens a cabinet to find Rebel Yell Culpepper tumbling out. Though totally annoyed with Rebel, he soon realizes that she may now more about this murder than she thinks. Rebel needs to be in the middle of everything though and following orders isn’t her strong suit. Cash doesn’t know if he should arrest her to keep her safe or just kiss her but his life will never be the same. When I started this story, I quickly became annoyed by the “southerness”. It felt unnatural. Still, I continued reading and I’m so glad I did. I found an excellent story and two very charming characters. I even found myself laughing at points.

Another college student is found dead in A Punishing Night by Sophie Littlefield. Detective Joe Bashir ends up at his former university, a place he has been avoiding. He does his job to the best of his ability while trying to make it to his parent’s house on time. A couple of years ago, his father was beaten and now needs constant care. Joe gives his mother a break so she can do her shopping. While there, Joe not only gets a phone call that he’s needed back at the university but he meets his parent’s new neighbor, a pretty single mom. She’s different than the women he’s usually attracted to but there’s something about her. This too was an excellent story that had some serious themes throughout from college hazing to racial stereotyping. Yet, there is nothing preachy about this story. It’s just a good solid story.

Things don’t always go according to plan in The Housewife Assassin’s Bloody Valentine by Josie Brown. Donna Stone is a mother and a CIA contract assassin. Today’s mission is to break a known drug dealer out of a Mexican prison and get information out of him. It’s risky but she has complete faith in her abilities and those of her mission leader’s. Jack Craig is her mission leader and the only man her children know as daddy, even though he isn’t their father. From start to finish things go a bit wrong and a bit right. I will warn you don’t eat your lunch and read this story at the same time. There are a couple of scenes that won’t mesh with that activity. However, the story is fun and unique. I love the way things don’t go smoothly but still go on. This has to be part of a series and I’d say it is a good one.

The next story, King of Hearts, is actually from an erotic romance series, the Rough Riders by Lorelei James. Cam McKay is a deputy in Sundance, WY where not too much happens. So, when he gets called in on a murder/suicide scene it’s highly unusual. The crime scene is so horrific that Cam and his chief would rather brave the cold than stay in the house. As the truth of this crime slowly comes out, Cam stops and reflects, worries and wonders if he could possibly have done anything to stop it or if he could do something similar. This story visits the dark side of PTSD but offers hope. It’s is very realistic in its portrayal and should touch everyone’s heart.

After such a dark story, the bright irrelevance of Bobbie Faye’s Whacked Out, No Good, Really Sucky, Hot Mess of a Wedding by Toni McGee Causey will quickly change your mood. Bobby Faye has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Currently, her fiancé and ex-FBI agent, Trevor is planning on them having a nice Catholic church wedding. Bobbie Faye isn’t too sure about that. Trevor’s mother definitely doesn’t want it to happen and is doing everything in her power to make sure it doesn’t including bribing the Pope to ex-communicate Bobbie Faye! Kidnapping, bagpipes and secrets all are part of this funny addition to the Bobby Faye series and this wonderful story.

This anthology has to be a definite must read for any fan of any of these authors and for any fan of mysteries with a bit of romance in them. This has to be the best sample of work that I have ever read, not one bad story in the mix though each is different. I’ve found some new authors that I really want to read more of and I can’t see how anyone couldn’t.

I have to highly recommend this book. These are first class authors and it shows. The professionalism that comes through is terrific. They have a lot of great stuff going on in just a few pages so you think you’ve actually read an entire book. No cardboard characters or emotionless scenes, instead you have multidimensional characters that draw you into the action and they give you a front row seat on their roller coaster ride. The mystery and suspense is a living thing and it latches on as you try to figure out who did it or how are they going to get out of that fix. Totally awesome is the best way to describe this collection.

Book Blurb for Guns and Roses

Murder She Writes presents a one-of-a-kind romantic suspense anthology with ten all-new, never-before-published short stories and novellas that promise thrills, chills, romance, intrigue, passion, danger, murder...and love. Penned by New York Times and award winning authors, some stories in this exclusive collection will make you laugh out loud while others will force you to sleep with the lights on.

Night Owl Reviews Mar, 2012 5.00