This Spring, I have the pleasure of joy to be reading a select sequencing of stories writ by the lovely Ms Anna J. Stewart – of whom, I first became introduced to whilst reading the #BlackwellBrothers series via Harlequin Heartwarming! Whilst continuing to get to know her further through her guest appearances on @SatBookChat (the Saturday chat I’ve hosted since 2014 celebrating Romance, Women’s Fiction & Feminist Lit). You’ll find me reading selections from her Romantic Suspense stories for Harlequin as well as her wicked lovely series ‘Butterfly Harbour’ which is a celebration of family, community and new beginnings!
Hence why I’m calling this special featured showcase of reviews:
Celebrating Spring whilst reading the stories of Anna J. Stewart!
Acquired Book By: Whilst speaking with Ms Stewart about being a guest on @SatBookChat in the New Year of 2021 – as this conversation we shared was in late 2020 – I realised there was a whole series of stories by her I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading! The first series which charmed my heart was Butterfly Harbour – which we happily discussed during #SatBookChat in January, 2021. She mentioned to me she also writes for Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense line and I was quite curious about those stories as I regularly read their Love Inspired Suspense novels. The key difference between the two is that Love Inspired is their faith-based imprint and the Romantic Suspense stories are Contemporary and mainstream. I tend to be a hybrid reader of both mainstream and faith-based markets which is why I agreed to reading 3x of her Romantic Suspense releases.
This is one of two reviews which features the Coltons – a very large series of novels spilt over different mini-series and settings throughout the Romantic Suspense line of novels by Harlequin Books. The two stories I am reading are rooted inside the Colton 911: Chicago series and The Coltons of Roaring Springs – both of which were discussed today (27 March, 2021) during #SatBookChat to celebrate the March 2021 release for “Undercover Heat” which is the third novel in the Colton 911: Chicago series.
I received a complimentary copy of “Undercover Heat” direct from the author Anna J. Stewart in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
a notation about reading Harlequin Romantic suspense novels:
My first foray into reading the Romantic Suspense line of stories by Harlequin was through their Love Inspired Suspense imprint! However, as those are faith-based stories rooted in the cosier side of suspenseful storylines – I hadn’t had the chance to cross-over into reading their mainstream Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels until Ms Stewart brought these lovelies to my attention!
I started by requesting her Honour Bound series (see the full list via Fantastic Fiction!) via interlibrary loan wherein I was able to read the first novel More than a Lawman and most of the second Reunited with the P.I. – both of which are deftly told and eclipse the pulse of what you expect out of a Romantic Contemporary Suspense novel! I was on pins reading those passages and in many instances could not turn the pages quick enough to know how things resolved! Quite a chilling read all the way round – whilst happily I noted that even if I hadn’t had the chance to read all the stories in the series, Stewart gave you the impression you already knew the details!
She’s written two Colton novels for the Romantic Suspense imprint at Harlequin and happily she was able to send me both novels for review consideration! And, these are the stories I read after the Honour Bound series! I had to withhold my review for the latest Honour Bound series release “Guarding His Midnight Witness” as I hadn’t had the chance to finish reading it as I was still hoping my library could have fetched a copy of Gone in the Night. Thereby I shifted gears and read about the Coltons and will be revisiting the Honour Bound series next whilst reading Butterfly Harbour!
The first novel she wrote for this imprint was “Colton on the Run” which is part of the Colton’s of Roaring Springs series whilst “Undercover Heat” is part of the Colton 911: Chicago series! Both of these lovelies are actually two of many mini-series which are inclusive of the Colton ‘series’ if you will as it is quite an expansive set of stories featuring the same family of characters and/or different relatives and relations therein from what I’ve gathered reading about the larger scope of the ‘series’ online.
I decided to read and review “Undercover Heat” first – as I admit, it was an easier story for me to soak inside as it involves cooking whilst set at a highly popular restaurant with a lot of drama percolating in the background with a potential underworld plot! The other novel “Colton on the Run” is dearly intense the moment you pick it up and doesn’t let you breathe until you know the conclusion of it – which is why I focused on this one first! I loved the respite it gave me from my new work life as much as it was a sweet transition back into reading as I’ve been struggling to read Historical Fiction lately and finding Contemporary stories are a bit easier for me to digest!
Thus I’m reading copious amounts of Harlequin stories of late – from these Rom Suspense novels to the Harlequin Heartwarming series and authors I have been championing a passion for since 2016!! I find these authors are giving me the kind of story I can sink my teeth into whilst allowing me to take a hiatus from my new schedule of working as well. It is always hard to shift gears in life and I’ve found that fatigue of my new job and the angst of Spring’s allergy season thrust upon me two months earlier this year than normal has caused an issue in my readerly life!! Thereby I am wicked happy Ms Stewart sent me her stories as I’ll be reading, reviewing and featuring them throughout the last months of Spring (ie. April-May!).
The key difference between the Romantic Suspense imprint and the Love Inspired Suspense imprint is that you know going into a LI:S story being faith-based their going to keep the romance and the crime bits on the cosy comfortable side of the ledger. Similar in tone and strength as you would expect out of a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series. Whilst with the Contemporary mainstream Romantic Suspense line you have to brace yourself because you get more of what you’d expect out of a regular hard-boiled crime drama and is more akin to say “NCIS” or “Crossing Jordan”. (which of course were two of my favourites when I regularly watched them!)
When her life is upended, a detective goes undercover to save it…
After tragedy strikes, chef Tatum Colton buries herself in her job. Detective Cruz Medina soon rocks her world once again, claiming criminals are using her restaurant as a front for nefarious activities. Cruz needs Tatum’s help to go undercover as her sous-chef, putting them both in the line of fire. But when things get hot in and out of the kitchen, can Cruz protect Tatum and their growing bond?
Places to find the book:
Heat Factor for Romance
Also by this author: Colton on the Run
Published by Harlequin Romantic Suspense
on 9th March, 2021
Format: Trade Paperback
NOTE: I felt this was a wonderfully written romance – in fact, it was one of those slow burning romances you instantly want to see happen for both lead characters because of how emotionally attached you’ve become to them during the course of the story. However, it is also a very ‘heated’ romance in regards to how the romance is explored and definitely has more heat in it than most of the romances I regularly read by Harlequin because this series and imprint is different than the others I read – especially for content inclusions. Thereby if you’re new to this imprint just know this is writ more like a traditional Contemporary or Historical Romance. I nearly gave it 4 flames but we spent so much time with the characters outside of their own pursuit of a relationship, I felt 3.5 was more aptly accurate!!
The Colton 911: Chicago series:
The Secret Network by Marie Ferrarella (book one)
Unlikely Alibi by Lisa Childs (book two)
Undercover Heat by Anna J. Stewart (book three)
Soldier’s Return by Karen Whiddon (book four) *April 2021
Hidden Target by Colleen Thompson (book five) *May 2021
Guardian in the Storm by Carla Cassidy (book six) *June 2021
Secret Defender by Marie Ferrarella (book seven) *July 2021
Temptation Undercover by Jennifer Morey (book eight) *August 2021
View the full sequence of the series via Fantastic Fiction!
Published by: Harlequin Romantic Suspense (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin
Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #RomanticSuspense
as well as the series tag: #Colton911Chicago