Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Tour for Justice for Corrie by Susan Stoker (Review)

As a reader with a disability I'm drawn to romances with characters that realistically depict our lives and am thrilled to introduce you to this tale that nicely blends disability with suspense and sensuality.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Justice for Corrie by Susan Stoker, along with my impressions of it, and then add it to your bookshelf!  You'll also learn Ms. Stoker's thoughts on disability and romance which will give you even more insight into this third installment in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes series.  And now, here's Ms. Stoker....

I think that romances, in general, don’t do a great job of portraying disabled Heroes and heroines.
In a lot of books I’ve read, when there is a blind, or dead, or injured H/h, at the end of the book, that person has a surgery to “fix” them. Then there’s the touching scene where one says to the other, while gazing on their face for the first time (in the case of a blind H/h), “I knew you’d be beautiful."
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, we all want that emotional high at the end of a book, BUT…I’ve often thought to myself… “why do they have to be fixed in order for them to live HEA?"
So I wrote Justice for Corrie to show a successful woman who had been blind since birth, and who would stay blind for the entire book, and beyond. There’s no “miracle cure” at the end where she can see Quint’s face. Not only that, she shows that she is far from helpless when she gets in trouble.
I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in the book. Someone will point them out to me, I’m sure. But I really wanted to write a book where the heroine was strong, funny, pretty, had a great job, enjoyed her life…and won the hot guy. Her being blind is secondary to all the other stuff.

Blind since birth, Corrie Madison relies on her other sharpened senses in her job as a chiropractor. Never did she imagine she'd have to depend on them to identify a killer. But when a man enters her practice, murdering everyone in his path, Corrie is the only witness—putting her directly in the killer's crosshairs.
Officer Quint Axton wasn't looking for love, or even a relationship, until he meets Corrie. Beautiful and brave, resilient and intelligent, she's everything Quint wants—if he can keep her alive long enough to explore their mutual attraction. The threats on Corrie's life are escalating. Surely a blind person is helpless against a ruthless killer?
Hardly. Corrie is about to prove that disabled does not equal defenseless.


Just as Corrie reached for the doorknob to see if she could find Shaun—he usually hung out in the makeshift break room toward the back of the clinic—she heard angry voices in the reception area, followed by a weird popping noise. She froze in her tracks and tilted her head to the side, trying to figure out what was going on.
It wasn’t until she heard Cayley’s scream cut short that Corrie figured out something horrible was happening.
Knowing better than to open her door and try to stop whatever was going on, Corrie stepped quickly away from the door and imagined her office layout in her head. As the popping noises and the screams continued—and got closer to her office—she frantically thought about where she could hide.
Her desk was large, and sat perpendicular to the doorway. She could walk from the door straight to the chair at her desk without having to swerve around any furniture. She kept her office purposely free of extraneous chairs and tables so she didn’t have to worry about tripping over them. She could hide under the desk, but wasn’t that where everyone always hid—and died doing it? If she was a crazy person hell-bent on killing everyone around her, that’s the first place she’d look for stragglers who might be hiding.
The exam door down the hall was opened and Corrie heard Mr. Treadaway ask, “Who are you?” before the awful popping sound came again.
Knowing time was running out, the gunman would be at her office within moments, Corrie made the split-second decision to see if she could fit in the small area under the sink. There was no other place she could hide.
When she’d been hired, there hadn’t been any extra space for her to have an office in the small clinic. A small break room had been converted for her, and the sink and cabinets still lined one wall. It would be a tight fit, an extremely tight fit, but Corrie didn’t hesitate.
Hearing the unsteady gait of someone walking down the hall, Corrie raced over to the sink and opened the cabinet underneath. She shoved her butt in first and wiggled it around, knocking over a few odds and ends that were stored under there in the process. She drew her knees up as close to her chest as she could get them and sighed in relief as she realized she fit, barely. Her neck was bent down at an awkward angle and she couldn’t breathe very well, but Corrie quickly, and quietly, closed one door, then the other, praying whoever was shooting wouldn’t think to look under the sink for anyone.
At the same moment Corrie heard the soft click of the cabinet door to her hiding place engage with the small magnet that kept it shut, she heard her office door burst open.
Because Corrie was blind, her other senses had always been more acute than a sighted person’s. She seemed to hear, smell, and taste what people with no disabilities couldn’t. The man who’d entered her office walked straight to her desk. Corrie heard her desk chair being pulled away. Yup, he’d immediately checked under there to see if someone was hiding from him. She heard him walk to the small window and held her breath.
Corrie nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the man’s cell phone ring. He answered it and paced around her office as he spoke to whomever was on the other end.
“Yeah? Just about. No trouble whatsoever. Easiest job I’ve had in a long time. Haven’t seen the asshole yet. Yeah, he was supposed to be here. I’ve got one more room to check. No, no witnesses. Yes, I’m fucking sure. He’ll wish he paid what he owes us once he sees what happened to his coworkers. Fuck off. You’ll hear from me when you hear from me."
Corrie breathed shallowly, trying not to make a sound. She knew she was one cough, one muscle twitch, one wrong move away from death.
The shooter sounded mean. She couldn’t tell what he looked like, of course, but his voice had a unique accent. She couldn’t place it, but Corrie was pretty sure if she ever heard it again, she’d recognize it. She listened as he walked around the room one more time. It sounded as if he was limping; there was a light pause between his footsteps, as if he dragged one leg a bit more than the other.
She almost had a heart attack when he came over to the sink and turned on the water above her. Corrie heard it gurgling through the pipes her knees were jammed against and even felt the pipe warm as the liquid coming out of the faucet heated up. The water turned off and she heard the killer grab a paper towel from the stack next to the sink.
As she sat under the sink, wondering if the man would somehow realize she was there and shoot her in the head, Corrie could smell the cologne he was wearing. She’d never smelled anything like it before. If she’d met a man out at a party or a club, she might find the scent attractive, but because of her circumstance, and the knowledge that she was two inches away from death, she almost gagged at the stench of him. The smell of gunpowder also clung to the man, as if he were cloaked in it. Corrie knew she’d never forget the scent of his cologne mixed with that horrible smell of gunpowder.
Finally the man limped to the end of the row of cabinets and must’ve thrown away the wet paper towel he’d used to dry his hands. Such a polite murderer, not leaving any trash around. She heard him open the first upper cabinet and rummage through it.
What in God’s name was he doing? Shouldn’t he want to get away? He’d just shot and probably killed people—was he looking for condiments now? Why wouldn’t he just leave already?
She almost whimpered in relief when she heard the faint sound of sirens. Either someone in the clinic must’ve called 911 before they were killed or someone nearby heard the shots. It took the man another few beats to hear them and he’d opened another cabinet in the meantime. When he finally heard the wailing of the police sirens, he turned away from the cabinets and walked quickly to the door to the office with his uneven gait.
Corrie didn’t hear the door to her office close, and listened as the man walked to the last room he hadn’t checked yet. It was the small break room. Shaun obviously wasn’t there, because Corrie didn’t hear any more gunshots. The mystery man then walked back up the hall the way he’d arrived, and not too much later, Corrie heard nothing but silence.
The quietness rang in her ears. It wasn’t normal for her workplace. Usually she heard the sounds of keyboard keys clacking as Cayley worked on her computer. She’d hear Shaun talking with Cayley, or on the phone, or with a client. Clients sometimes spoke on their phones while they waited for their appointments, or talked to each other. Hiding under the sink, Corrie couldn’t even hear the hum of the air conditioner that usually drove her crazy by the end of each day. It had a high-pitched squeak that no one but her seemed able to hear.
Corrie’s legs were cramping, but she was too scared to move. She couldn’t see what was going on, if the man was really and truly gone, or if he had an accomplice. Maybe he was waiting to see if any witnesses, like herself, crawled out of their hidey-holes, so he could blow them away as well. She’d never been so scared in her entire life, and that was saying something.
Growing up blind hadn’t been a walk in the park. She’d made it through too many terrifying situations to count, including being lost in the middle of a large shopping mall. Or the time she went out with friends in college and got separated from them when a fight broke out in the bar they were in. Corrie could hear grunting and fists hitting bodies, but had no idea which way to go to escape the danger all around her.
But this—this was a whole new kind of scary.
Corrie stayed huddled under the sink, listening as several people finally entered the clinic area. They didn’t say a word, but Corrie could hear them methodically making their way through each room, saying “clear” as they entered each one. It was obviously the police, and she’d never been so glad to hear anything in her entire life.
Not wanting to get shot, she didn’t dare pop open the cabinet doors to crawl out. When she heard two people enter her office, she took a chance and tentatively called out, “Don’t shoot! I’m a chiropractor. I’m hiding under the sink."
“Come out with your hands up."
“Okay, I’m coming, but please, don’t shoot me.” Corrie’s voice wobbled as she answered. She leaned against the cabinet door with her shoulder and as she expected, the small magnet holding it shut popped open easily. She tried to keep her hands in full view of whoever was in the room. She stuck them out first and swung her legs out.
She nodded at the terse order. Corrie heard a shuffling sound to her right and to her left. There were at least two officers in the room. She ducked her head and emerged from the small space with a relieved sigh, staying on the ground, knowing her legs wouldn’t be able to hold her up just yet anyway.
“Put your hands on your head and don’t move."
She did as instructed, intertwining her fingers together on the back of her head, knowing the officers were probably jacked-up on adrenaline, and she didn’t want to survive the workplace shooting only to make a wrong move and be accidently shot by the good guys. She felt her wrists being forcibly grasped and held in place. She stayed sitting, waiting for more instructions. She felt another pair of hands patting down her sides, obviously looking for a weapon. After they found nothing, Corrie felt her hands being released.
“Who are you? What’s your name?"
“Corrie Madison. I’m a chiropractor here."
“Can you tell us what happened?"
“I can tell you what I know, but please…is Cayley okay? What about Mr. Treadaway? I think there were others waiting for their appointments…” Her voice drifted off as she waited for reassurance that wouldn’t ever come.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Madison, they didn’t make it. Now, what can you tell us? What did you see?"
Corrie turned toward the demanding voice. Sometimes she forgot people couldn’t tell she was blind. It was refreshing, usually, but she’d give anything, absolutely anything at this point, to be able to tell this officer that she could identify who had killed her coworkers. She tried to hold back her tears. This was no time to lose it.
“I’m blind, officer. I didn’t see anything.”




When it comes to disability in romance books I've found myself often frustrated by the inaccuracies and the miracle cures that have ruined many promising reads. Not having read any of Ms. Stoker's previous books I didn't know what to expect but am happy that, on a whole, I found her depiction of living blind fairly accurate and seamlessly incorporated into the romance and suspense of the storyline.  The disabled heroine didn't let her disability define her while the hero treated her as he would any other love interest.  Theirs was a relationship of equality and their interludes were sweet and sexy and a satisfying juxtaposition to the suspense and tenseness that the villains in this story enacted to keep readers on edge.

Corrie was a refreshing heroine who didn't let her disability dictate how she lived her life.  She was an independent woman who broke down every barrier put in front of her which made her admirable and worth cheering for.  She was far from stereotypical as she was neither helpless nor an angel on a pedestal.  She was a strong-willed woman who dealt with her disability in a realistic way, sometimes becoming frustrated but ultimately overcoming every adversity.  I also enjoyed her deep convictions when it came to not cursing which led to charming and playful interactions with her friends which further exuded realism. Corrie stood tall amongst book heroines with her understandable self-esteem issues balanced with her strong self-confidence that had her sticking up for herself in the face of danger and her disability and is all the more memorable for it.

Quint's an equally charming hero with an aw-shucks attitude.  He's a strong-willed man who's not afraid to show his softer side.  He's drawn to Corrie the moment he sees her but takes his time getting to know her in a very slow moving relationship that dragged the story down a bit in the middle section of the story.  He asked Corrie the questions readers want to know in a sensitive way which let the story be realistic, enlightening, as well as engaging.  He was there when Corrie needed a protector but stood back too and let her be the strong and able woman he knew her to be.  Quint's immensely likable, a dream when it comes to a boyfriend, and perfectly paired with Corrie to make a connection that's sweet and sensual.

From start to finish this was an engaging story told with sensitively-handled realism with a slow burning romance between two likable characters thrown into a dangerous situation that added moments of creepiness that kept readers squirming.  Living a life of blindness was shown realistically, warts and all, with all its highs and lows and added to the suspense by the very fact of not seeing the danger coming.  The villains in this story were truly sadistic and the glimpses of their actions were very unsettling and added to the fear for Corrie. Because of their nastiness I wish though that their endings would've been more satisfying. Barring a slow middle section, the overall flow of this story was well done to keep readers engrossed in Corrie and Quint's relationship while constantly on edge in fear for Corrie.  The ending was especially exhilarating and pulse-pounding with a cheer-inducing moment that led to a very satisfying conclusion.  Readers who like memorable heroines will get just that in Corrie. Readers will be further charmed by the handsome man who sticks by her through everything, believing in her wholeheartedly.  Throw in a bit of suspense that keeps readers satisfyingly on edge and you end up with a nicely crafted story that renews my faith in making a heroine not defined by her disability but by her brains and her heart and soul.

My rating for this is a B+

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She's married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.

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