Title: Girls with Guns
Author Name & Publisher: Michelle Grubb, Carsen Taite, and Ali Vali (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: April 12, 2106 — 240 Pages
Three stories by three talented crime writers—Carsen Taite, Ali Vali, and Michelle Grubb—each packing her own special brand of heat.
In Hammersmith by Michelle Grubb: Officer Belinda Riley knew the signs of a suicide bomber, but this time she was blind to the obvious. This time she didn’t want to believe what was right in front of her eyes.
In Bow and Arrow by Carsen Taite: Bounty hunter Luca Bennett has always lived on the edge of the law, but now she’s living with a cop and doing her darnedest to stay out of trouble. When an old enemy resurfaces, will the shady ways of Luca’s past come back to haunt her?
In Hell Fire by Ali Vali: Dr. Abigail Eaton stumbles into a massacre, but once someone tries to kill her it seems like no accident. While hunting for the perpetrators of a sex trafficking empire, Agent Riley Abbott saves Abigail from a professional hit and discovers the young mother might be the key to more than just her case. Riley takes Abigail and her family to what she thinks is safer ground, and runs right into the arms of reputed mob boss Cain Casey.
Taken as a whole this is an extremely varied, exciting and at times romantic read. The authors offer the reader insight into Law Enforcement, Terrorism and do this in an imaginative and believable way. The link is Guns, but this is the only similarity, each woman has a totally different concept and outlook on how to use her gun.
For an anthology I was pleasantly surprised not only by the consistently high standard of writing by all three author’s but also by their inventiveness and presentation of each scenario.
I didn’t like one of the references made in jest in the first story as I found it a little stereotypical, but this was the only thing. In the second novel the veracity of the plot had me doubting it, but the ending was magnificent, humorous and totally unexpected, it had me laughing out loud. The final instalment of this trilogy was for me outstanding.
A very worthy read that I can thoroughly recommend, different, audacious at times thought provoking but never dull.
Bow and Arrow by Carsen Taite was a really good read, the story of bounty hunter Luca and her attempt to catch an old foe. After ending up on jury duty she finds the case on trial begins to overlap with her quest to bring an corrupt ex-cop to justice. Her new live-in romance with Jess also gets put to the test. I found the mystery well written and full of suspense, with enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I didn’t find Luca the most sympathetic of characters but I think that was her strength. She is supposed to be the determined, hard-nosed bounty hunter and needed to have that slight detachment . Her lover Jess was the softer, more obviously loving of the two. I think they made a good partnership. I want to go and read some more of Carsen Taite’s work now .
Hammersmith by Michelle Grubb was my favourite of the three stories. Bel is a MI5 security officer on the London Underground and spends her days trying to spot suspicious commuters. She keeps her
Job a secret from girlfriend Esther, who is a bit of an enigma herself. She is not keen on committing but when they have the most intense sexual connection one night Bel thinks they may have a chance. Tension is ramped up at an amazing rate as Bel travels through the underground network in search of a suspected suicide bomber. There are so many surprises and elements to this story I can’t believe Michelle Grubb managed to fit it into one story . The chase through the underground was so well described I almost felt I was there. A brilliant read.
Hell Fire by Ali Valli was a fast paced thrilling read. Abigail witnesses a shooting and then becomes a target herself. Finlay, an undercover FBI agent becomes her protector and saviour, as she tries to get Abigail and her three children to safety . Ties to the Russian mob and a sex trafficking ring become apparent but what do they have to do with Abigail and her family? Finlay and Abigail become closer as the story develops but frustratingly for both life seems to keep getting in the way. I really enjoyed their relationship and how further revelations brought them to a place where they could see a future together. This thriller was jam packed with twists I didn’t see coming and kept me enthralled .
I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this anthology. Each of the three stories dealt with law and order, as well as the criminally inclined, but each also exposed a softer side to characters who could’ve been hardened by what they’ve seen and experienced. It also showcased each author’s style, and while different, the three stories seemed very complementary to me.
The first story was Bow and Arrow by Carsen Taite. I don’t think I’ve read anything by her before, although I keep hovering over that “buy” button. I’m not sure I actually liked Luca. Although she genuinely seemed to love Jess, she struggles to allow herself to be vulnerable, even seeing the admission of feelings to be somehow weak. Her feeling that being in a relationship, even one she likes and doesn’t want to give up, somehow makes her soft, leads her to make choices that could cause her trouble in that relationship down the road. I did, however, love her declaration for Valentine’s Day at the end. This will probably get me to actually click that button the next time I’m looking for a good read.
Next is Hammersmith by Michelle Grubb. Bel and Esther have a very amorphous relationship, and it’s one that makes me question whether Bel really knew Esther much at all. That totally plays into what happens at Bel’s job one day, looking for threats to public safety on the London Underground. Grubb definitely had me wondering the whole story, and I definitely didn’t see the twist coming, so kudos to Ms. Grubb for a wonderfully suspenseful tale.
Last is Ali Vali’s Hell Fire. A lot seems to happen in a very short time for Abigail and her kids, and the only safe port in this storm seems to be Finley, who’s stepped forward to keep the small family safe and alive. In her quest to find out who has targeted Abigail, Finley gets closer and closer to the brave woman and her children, but Finley has a past of her own, a past that her law enforcement employers might have a problem with. Can Finley use that part of her life to help Abigail? And if so, at what cost? Definitely an interesting read, and it reminds me that I need to go finish Cain Casey’s series.
So, strong female characters, who know how to use a gun and who know that justice and law sometimes don’t go together, make this three story anthology a great read for anyone who loves crime stories. Definitely a good addition to anybody’s library.
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