Review!! The Coin and Book of Hours By Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

July 14, 2015

The Coin 
By Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

~My Review~
5 stars!
The Coin is book one in a duo-logy (2 book series). I however read them out of order. This did not ruin the story for me in any way and in fact it was really fun to pick up Gabriela and Richard's story from their first meet, instead of the reunion they had in book 2. 

The Coin starts out with Gabriela innocently picking up a coin while on her hike. Like her I have always been taught finding these coins is a lucky thing. She combines her lucky coins on a bracelet (which I now want one!) and while the coin is the jewelers getting put on the bracelet is when it is discovered to not just be a simple coin, but a code for terrorist. This is where Richard enters her life, and thank goodness he does, because she quickly becomes the target of some really nasty mouse and cat games! 

The mystery around this story was fantastically woven and I truly feel in love with these books! I am simply sad to not have more of Richard and Gabriela's story to read, but will be looking out for more amazing mysteries by this author! 

France, 1993.

Who ever thought a coin could get you killed?


            For artist Gabriela Martinez, life has become complicated:  she suspects her mentor and friend wants her as his mistress, her husband is neglecting her, and her latest illustration is ruined.  Seeking peace, she visits her favorite thinking spot in La Marbriére, the mountain overlooking her home in the Côte d’Azur.  Distracted, she winds up in an unfamiliar clearing, where she discovers a 1945 French coin half-buried in the ground.  Delighted with its beauty, she has it set on her favorite bracelet.


            Richard Harrison, an American intelligence officer, is livid.  A simple favor for his boss has turned his vacation in the French Riviera into a hellish assignment.  Now, not only does he learn the truth about the coin, but he must also protect Gabriela from a cunning killer who will stop at nothing.


            Together with Maurice Nôret, from French intelligence, Richard attempts to discover the madman’s identity, except his budding love for the beautiful artist is turning into a dangerous handicap.  Every one of his moves is thwarted with brutal counter-moves.  Soon, the psychological games to terrorize Gabriela escalate beyond his control.  If Richard doesn’t find a solution, it may be too late for them both.

            Set in the exotic French Riviera, The Coin is a story of hatred, betrayal, love and duty—of terrible and painful choices that, nonetheless, bring about personal triumph.

Richard’s warning came like an explosion.  “Shit.  Hang on.”
Gabriela’s strangling grip of the seat was instinctive and came not a moment too soon.  Richard rounded the corner into the small street at an alarming speed, the car’s rear skidding and tires screaming against the loose gravel.  Gabriela’s body thumped against the door and she felt, rather than saw, Richard slam his foot on the accelerator.
So this was fear.
Richard didn’t transmit his, but Gabriela felt hers, tasted it, and it was horrible.  She became hot and cold, her extremities shook, and her heart pounded inside her chest, wanting to flee her body.  Everything took on bizarre proportions—the reckless speed of the car, the concentrated grimace of the man beside her, the heavy forest bordering the road, the black monstrosity
behind them that seemed to get closer and closer each time she glanced furtively in the mirror.
“He’s catching up to us,” he stated coldly and hit the wheel so hard, Gabriela winced.  “Son-of-a-bitch has a turbo, too, and I don’t have my gun.”
Gabriela’s muscles froze, her palms sweating so profusely she couldn’t keep a proper grip on the seat.  The car increased its momentum, the curving road, landmarks, and trees rushing by like an old slapstick movie.  Frantically, she prayed they wouldn’t find any traffic on this street.  It was too narrow, had too many sheer drops on the sides, and too many trees.  There were just too many things that could get them killed.  Her stomach lurched, threatening to retch its contents any minute.  She grabbed her mouth tightly with one hand while she strangled the door handle with the other.
“Keep your wits about you,” Richard said harshly.  “Concentrate on the road.  I need you to guide me.”  He glanced at her briefly.  “Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale.  You’re hyperventilating.”
She tried to do what he suggested.  Concentrate on the road, she kept repeating to herself like a broken record.  Don’t panic.  Everything will work out.  Oh, God!  Oh, God!  Breathe.  Breathe.
The force of metal hitting metal caught her by surprise.  Her entire body jerked forward, her head bouncing back and forth in opposing motion with the car.  The second hit came as quickly, but more viciously.  Her body jerked like a rag doll, the strap of her seat belt biting hard against her chest and shoulders.  This wasn’t real, she thought.  This could not be happening to her.
“Brace yourself,” Richard shouted.
The car gave another sickening lurch, but this time the rear was slammed sideways.  Gabriela’s head smashed against the window, her eyesight blurred, and she tasted the rising bile in her mouth.  To compound her horror, the car was now out of control, heading straight for a fifteen-foot drop.  There, a front-line of grotesquely shaped trees seemed to be eagerly extending their gnarled branches in hopes of grabbing them.  Gabriela closed her eyes and thought, we’re dead.  We’re going to die.
Her body suddenly slammed against Richard’s as he desperately tried to keep the car under control.  A small cry escaped her lips as her body again smacked against the door.  She heard the roar of the turbo engine as it got ready for another onslaught, and braced her body for the impact.  Her panicky brain struggled to keep control of her body and she forced herself to look out the window.
With a wrench, Richard maneuvered the car away from the other.  “Where do I go, Gabriela?” he asked, his voice as tight as his hands on the steering wheel. When his question solicited no response, his voice hardened, “Gabriela.  Stay with me.  Guide me.  Where?”

The Book Of Hours
By Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

~My Review~
5 stars
The book of hours is book 2 in the series, not really series, but a duo-logy. I however mistakenly read this book first! What was amazing was that the author wrote book 2 in a way that I immediately understood the story and the characters without having read her first book yet, which is impressive to say the least! I did read the coin immediately following this book and loved that I was able to get more of Gabriela's story and it definitely played as backstory for this book. 

The book of hours, begins with Gabriela fighting off what she considered mundane threats from a man determined to get her amazing Manuscript at rock bottom prizes. What she doesn't know is the man has no limit to the threats he will send her way, and that he intends to carry them all out as well. This is when Richard walks back into her life and the story truly begins.  Gabriela and Richard seem to have a lot to talk about and work out, but because of all the chaos and danger there is simply no time to do that. This leaves them at times at odds with each other, and that seems to happen at all the wrong times. 

I loved this book, and I loved the Duo-logy! They both read so well, while the mystery at times was complex I was always able to follow the story without a single problem. The characters were very well developed and you simply learn more about the main ones between the two books. If you are looking for a great mystery read, these books will not disappoint! 

About the book:
For artist Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do hit twice.

In 1993, artist Gabriela Martinez almost lost her life to a sociopath’s twisted vision.  If not for Richard Harrison, the operative sent to protect her, she would have ended up dead.  The dramatic showdown pushed them together, but there were too many obstacles temporarily pulling them apart.

After catching a glimpse of Gabriela’s new work, The Book of Hours, Arnold Wickeham has been like a man possessed.  Now, he will do anything—anything—in order to claim it, and nothing, especially not Gabriela, will stand in his way.

Richard Harrison has never given up his true love, Gabriela.  Now someone new is threatening her life, and he will risk everything to protect her.  But the stakes are now higher, and there is much more to lose.  And, if he doesn’t stay one step ahead of the danger, her life, but especially, their future, may very well go up in flames.

In The Coin, Gabriela and Richard were cruelly used by fate—and destiny isn’t done.  In the shadow of this new threat, their choices may not just save their lives, but also their love.


            Gabriela’s body stilled at the soft sound of her name. For a moment, she stood listening, then shook her head like a wet dog shaking off water. You are such a fool, her mind supplied. Disgusted, she stabbed at the cerulean blue on her palette. Her mind had deceived her yet again. She slobbered the paint on the canvas, realized what she had done, and hissed. Since agreeing with Jean-Louis to call Maurice later that evening, she’d been a nervous wreck. Throughout the noon hour, her brain had staged all sorts of encounters with one infuriating, unforgettable man. Like a dutiful stage manager, her mind had supervised every possible scene, every possible emotion under its tutelage. She’d jumped from rage, to indifference, to haughtiness, but longing had finally won, hands down. No matter how hard she tried to avoid it, she could never escape the terrible need she felt for him, a need that went deeper than the instinct to breathe.
            The lyrics from the song she’d impulsively put on swirled around her, teased her. The singer, in his soulful tenor voice, sang about the moment of encounter with his beloved, anticipation heating his blood, nerves tingling in expectation of the seduction. His words mimicked her own guilty longings, her desires. Oh, God. How would she ever get through this day? How would she find the courage to do what must be done?
            This time the voice penetrated, took form. It called out to her, familiar and unmistakably real, a living entity that caressed her skin and raised goose bumps on her warm flesh. This was no figment of her imagination, no mistake. She felt him, her nerve endings suddenly electrified, awareness shaking her. Panic sent her heart scurrying. Hope and love made her turn around slowly, ever so slowly.
            She blinked, thinking her eyes were deceiving her, but Richard’s tall frame stood static before her, his chestnut hair combed by the soft breeze, his eyes intense, pinning her and caressing her all at once. The embers of irrational hope fanned to life like a conflagration. For an unguarded moment, her eyes reflected her hope, her joy, but especially her hopeless love for him.
            Richard watched those powerful emotions play across her face and relief slammed him.  Gotcha.  She’d always had such an expressive, beautiful face.  Now, no matter what she did, but especially said, he would know the truth.  The love was there, and it flared like a beacon.

About the Author:
Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a romantic suspense author with a unique point of view. Her adventure novels take place in locales across Europe and the United States, reflecting her international upbringing and extensive time as a global traveler. In her duology, The Coin and The Book of Hours, her characters, Gabriela and Richard, walk the same paths as their creator, though her life was never in so much danger.

Ms. Alonso-Sierra’s writing career began circa age thirteen with a very juvenile science fiction short story, but the writing bug hit, and she has been writing, in one capacity or another, ever since.  She has worked as a professional dancer, singer, journalist, and literature teacher (and not necessarily in that order—she likes variety) and holds a Masters in English literature. She loves to hear from readers and, when not writing, roams around to discover new places to set her novels.

Ms. Alonso-Sierra is currently working on her third novel, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and her dog, Amber.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for the reviews and the host, Terry. Humbled and excited you loved them. Super glad you shared Richard's and Gabriela's world.


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