Still Life (Chesapeake Valor Series #2)

Still Life (Chesapeake Valor Series #2)

by Dani Pettrey

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Romantic Suspense's Rising Star Continues to Win Fans

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441230881
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/31/2017
Series: Chesapeake Valor Series , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,462
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Dani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Alaskan Courage series and winner of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier award for Inspirational Novel, the 2014 Christian Retailing's Best Award for Suspense, and the 2013 Holt Medallion for First Novel. She and her husband reside in the D.C. Metro area. She can be found online at
Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as "a name to look for in romantic suspense," Dani Pettrey has sold more than 400,000 copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their "wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters" (Publishers Weekly), "gripping storyline[s]," (RT Book Reviews), and "sizzling undercurrent of romance" (USA Today).
Her Alaskan Courage series and Chesapeake Valor series have received praise from readers and critics alike and spent multiple months topping the CBA bestseller lists. Dani has also been honored with multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award finalist, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award.
From her early years eagerly reading Nancy Drew mysteries, to paging through Agatha Christie novels or watching on-the-edge-of-her-seat adventure movies, Dani has always enjoyed mystery and suspense. She considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves--full of plot twists and peril, love, and longing for hope and redemption. Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart.  She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland. For more information about her novels, visit

Read an Excerpt

Still Life

By Dani Pettrey

Baker Publishing Group

Copyright © 2017 Dani Pettrey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7642-3007-3


Inhaling a steadying breath of the steamy August Baltimore air, Avery Tate paused a moment, clutching the metal door handle. This was it. Her first return to the Baltimore art scene since she'd been ostracized over a year ago.

Her grip tightened.

One more breath of the thick, sticky air and she yanked the cherrywood-and-beveled-glass door open. The cool of the gallery's AC rushed over her, rippling up her bare arms, her red satin dress thankfully not clinging to her after the muggy ten-minute walk from the parking spot she'd been lucky enough to find. An event like this made parking insane in Fell's Point.

The frenzy of conversation and lilting music buzzed as she stepped farther inside Christopher Fuller's gallery.

Her right heel wobbled, every nerve ending alive and dancing beneath her skin, whether from the cool of the building or from the circumstances she didn't know, but she fortified her gait and took another step forward.

She could fake walking in heels. How hard could it be?

One step at a time. You can do this. Hold your head high.

She'd overcome so much more than this petty group encircling her. The only reason the ostracism had hit so hard was because photography was where her heart lived ... or had. Now it lived for Parker — a man of such depth, such sincerity albeit mixed with a playful spirit she adored and ...

And why was she thinking about Parker Mitchell again? It'd been six months since they'd worked together as crime-scene investigator and crime-scene photographer. Nine months since she'd fully realized the depth of her feelings for him, but ... She swallowed, the motion painful. Parker could never be hers, at least not fully.

Part of his heart, a huge part, would always belong to Jenna McCray. She understood. Jenna was Parker's first love, and her devastating murder seven years ago, when Jenna was just shy of her eighteenth birthday, had been horrific, but Avery couldn't spend the rest of her life with a man who loved someone else so deeply, a man who loved another woman more than her.

Forcing her attention back where it belonged, at least for tonight, she squared her shoulders and assessed her surroundings, as Parker had taught her to do.

Man, he lived in her head — her thoughts always drifting to him and their time together. Oh, she still saw him through mutual friends, but she could no longer handle working side by side. Unless she could permanently be at his side, she couldn't continue long hours, late nights, and close proximity in his lab. She missed him something terrible.

"Avery Tate, is that you?"

She needn't bother turning to find it was Marjorie Thrasher. Her effervescent voice — the unmistakable combo of shrill pitch and Yonkers accent — readily identified the elderly yet vivacious woman. Of all the people to run into first, Marjorie was a great one.

Avery turned — well, teetered — around, praying her heels held firm on the recently buffed hardwood floor.

Marjorie's copper-painted lips puckered. "Oh, darling. I knew it was you. Whatever are you doing here?" Her faux lashes fluttered as she looked Avery up and down. "Don't tell me you're back in the crowd?"

"No." Most definitely not. "Just here to support a friend." Maybe if she kept reminding herself of that, along with the pivotal fact she was supporting Skylar here and not where they'd grown up ... Here wasn't much more comfortable and, in all fairness, was probably just as toxic, but at least it wasn't physically hostile. Verbally hostile — absolutely — but fear of what others might say no longer paralyzed her. As her momma said, she had a fighter's heart.

The fact her mom had said those words the day she'd abandoned Avery imprinted the description on Avery's young mind, but it was true. She was a fighter and she loved that fact. Skylar Pierce was a fighter too, just on a very dangerous path, which Avery kept trying to yank her from.

Marjorie's thoroughly plucked brows, or rather what little remained of them, attempted to arch, but it was difficult when they were practically fastened in place due to Marjorie's addiction to Botox injections. Her smile, whether genuine or not, was permanent, her lips double the plump. "You aren't referring to Gerry, are you?"

Avery smothered her upchuck reflex. "No."

"I don't understand." Marjorie took a sip of her chocolate martini, the brown syrup swirling around the glass in fanciful patterns. Marjorie loved her martinis.

"A friend of mine modeled for him," she said. She and Skylar had been friends since birth. Or at least their mothers had been. Both young, pregnant, and living in the same trailer park, they had naturally gravitated toward each other, and in turn Avery and Skylar had grown up together. That's what made their current relationship so difficult. She loved Sky like a sister but felt utterly helpless to do anything to prevent her self-inflicted destruction.

"Oooh. Which one?" Marjorie's bony fingers grasped Avery's arm, tugging her from her thoughts and through the milling crowd huddled at the center wall's morbid display

Leave it to Gerard "Gerry" Vaughn to present a distasteful Black Dahlia-inspired showing.

Five portraits — each of a woman appearing to be captured post-mortem — hung perfectly aligned on the white surface, the lighting deftly illuminating each image. The women, dressed in fanciful gowns and striking makeup, appeared frozen in time — nearly lifeless. Nearly, except Skylar's. Something about hers stood out. Something was different. But what?

Skylar's pale skin, which must have been enhanced — no one's skin color was that even and flawless, even with makeup — formed a striking contrast to her red lipstick and the matching bloodred dahlia cradled in her open palm. Gerard had paid impressive attention to detail — the gleaming black nail polish, the silky texture of the scarf wrapped like a choker around her neck, and her dark hair pulled back, accentuating her dark eyes and pale face. Despite the grotesque subject matter, the portrait was artistically brilliant. But something was tugging at Avery Something about Skylar's eyes. They were so dark, her pupils larger than usual, void of life — wells of emptiness.

The arresting image reminded Avery of the Brothers Grimm's description of Snow White — "Soon afterward she had a little daughter who was as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony."

"Come, dear," Marjorie said, pulling Avery to the next image before she was fully finished studying Skylar's. "This one is to die for. Oops." Marjorie giggled, tipping her martini glass and nearly spilling its swirly brown contents onto Avery's favorite and only dressy dress.

"No pun intended." Marjorie broke into another round of giggles as several lackeys in the surrounding crowd chuckled along with her, or more likely, at her. Marjorie was hardly a conformist, and most people weren't sure how to take her. While Avery admired her individualism among a crowd of clones, there wasn't a whole lot else to admire. She'd just ended marriage number three, and rumor was she'd already begun a dalliance with one of Gerry's understudies.

"What do you think?" Marjorie poked her finger into Avery's exposed right shoulder.

The image Marjorie gestured at was stunning compositionally, but again highly grotesque in content. The woman — dressed in a mustard-yellow satin ball gown and posed upon a fluffy white comforter covering a pitch-black four-poster bed — was bent backward, her torso hanging over the edge of the bed. Her blond hair, hanging long and free, flowed from her pale face. Her lips were a deep shade of burgundy, her eyes vivid blue with charcoal shadow. The entire image was a striking juxtaposition of colors: light and dark, life and apparent death. Even her expression was impressive — nearly devoid of life.

As Marjorie tugged her to the next piece in the showcase, Avery searched the crowd for Skylar. She wanted to congratulate her friend on landing the "gig of the century," as Sky put it, and head out before Gerry appeared. He adored making a grand, fashionably late entrance, even if he was already in the building, just waiting somewhere in the shadows for his moment. While she was thankful he hadn't appeared yet, she really wished Skylar would.

The portrait now before her was vastly different from the first two — a woman, dressed in a simple eyelet dress, falling into the depths of a body of water. Her arms and legs limp and lifeless, round rings circling up to the surface from whence she came. It looked eerily real. Though pompous and vapid, Gerry was extremely talented.

"Of course you show up. The wrong piece of trailer trash doesn't help me any," Gerard said mere inches behind Avery, his breath hot on her neck and reeking of gin, as usual.

Balling her hands into fists, she turned to face him. Man, how she'd like to get him into the kickboxing ring just once. "Excuse me?"

"You're not interchangeable, you know," he said.

"What are you talking about?"

"You show up for Skylar's showing, but she does not."

"What?" Skylar was a flake when it came to timeliness, but she'd gone on and on about how important tonight was. Was she seriously late for her own showing?

"She's not here," Gerard said, turning to face Skylar's portrait. And a string of expletive-laden sentiments followed. "What. Is. That?"

"Skylar's portrait," Avery said. Exactly how inebriated was he?

"It's magnificent," Marjorie gushed.

"It's trash. Just like the girl in it." Gerard pushed past them, nearly knocking Avery over, and hollered, "Who did this? You think this is some kind of joke?"

A woman scurried over, moving as fast as her tight pencil skirt and three-inch heels would permit. "What's wrong?"

"Who. Did. This?" He shoved her toward the portrait, enunciating each word with disdain.

She took a brief moment to study it. "I don't understand."

"Well, that makes two of us, Nadine. Did you oversee the hanging of the showcase or did you not?"

"I ... I did."


"Your original portrait of Skylar was hung."

"Then how did this get in its place, and where is my masterpiece?"

Christopher Fuller, the gallery owner, rushed over, concern and a tad of horror mixed on his handsome face.

Patrons were staring, murmuring. This was not good for business. And with Gerard being one of the highest-paid photographers in the country, an egomaniac worth millions with zero tolerance for incompetence, if something had happened to Gerry's photograph, Christopher was looking at serious financial damage.

"What happened?" Christopher asked, glancing at Avery with disdain, but rapidly shifting his focus to the distraught and fuming Gerard Vaughn instead.

"This," Gerard said, "is an outrage."

Christopher swallowed. "I don't understand." Even he was scared of the man. It was ridiculous. He loosened his collar, his gaze darting to the crowd. "Every piece was hung and lit to your exact specifications. Nadine oversaw the entire process."

"That," Gerard hissed, pointing at the portrait of Skylar that Nadine had lifted off the wall and now held in trembling hands, "is hardly my work."

A mixture of confusion and concern danced through Avery's gut. "If you didn't take that photograph, then who did?"

"That is the pertinent question, is it not?" Gerard's plump cheeks were nearly as red as his drinker's nose. For an artist of his standing in the photography world, he certainly didn't act like a professional.

"I checked everything fifteen minutes before the doors opened," Nadine said in a flustered flurry. "Someone would have had to change it very quickly while we were all in Christopher's office."

So Christopher still held his preshow pep talk for the artists and staff before opening the gallery doors.

"Did they think I wouldn't notice? They stole my masterpiece and replaced it with this ...?" Gerard gestured to the portrait. "Outrage, I tell you. Outrage!" he roared at Christopher. "I'm calling the authorities."

"FBI handles art theft," Avery said. "You'll want to contact them."

Gerald let out a burst of air. "At least you're good for something."

Avery forced herself to remain silent as Gerard stomped off. He wasn't worth it. Instead she retrieved her phone and dialed Skylar. What had she done?


Excerpted from Still Life by Dani Pettrey. Copyright © 2017 Dani Pettrey. Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Still Life 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent story. Having lived near Baltimore it is nice to actually picture places from the story. Can't wait for the next one.
inkwellreviews More than 1 year ago
Review from (Christian book review site) After reading Cold Shot, I was ecstatic to read Still Life. Dani Pettrey is my favorite author, which means I hold her to very high expectations. I can now gladly tell you that I absolutely loved this book! If you love suspense and adventure, then this is another book that you can read and re-read. This book is about the whole gang, but it focuses on Parker and Avery. Avery’s friend goes missing and she asks Parker to help her find her. This story is not your typical suspense, which I love. It has just the right amount of suspense and romance without overdoing it. I only have one, small and insignificant, problem with it. Avery and Parker were never a “thing” in Cold Shot. Of course, the book implied that they were going to become one but it never said that they were even close. Then, as you read Still Life, you realize that they are in love with each other and have been for a really long time. It was just really abrupt and sudden. There are a lot of characters in these books and it can get confusing at some points, but once you get to know them, you will be glad that they are included. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I hope you do too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for the next one!!
ganderson523 More than 1 year ago
This second book in the Chesapeake Valor series in another great story involving friends who work in law enforcement and/or investigation. In Still Life, Avery Tate, a professional photographer, is thrown back into her old life and not so nice old acquaintances when her friend goes missing. Skylar was one of the models for the artist who is featured in an art exhibit and wanted Avery there for the special night but Skylar never showed. Upset and worried, Avery calls her old boss, crime scene investigator, Parker Mitchell to help with finding her friend. Avery left when her feelings for Parker became too complicated. He has feelings for Avery and is quick to help her. FBI agent and friend, Declan is called to the exhibit when the photo of Sky has been switched out and replaced by the work of someone else but also a photo of Skylar that makes her appear to be dead. So the gang is all back together to work the disappearance. On another note, Declan and others are called to investigate a shooting of a federal agent and someone else on a Malaysian ship with refugees that shows up in the Baltimore harbor. This is a page turner with suspense and danger and a great mystery to solve. I was surprised with how that all turned out. As always, expect a cast of characters that is realistic, interesting and believable, not to mention a great plot. Missing friend Luke, gone seven years now, may be alive or so his former girlfriend thinks. Looking forward to reading the third book.
WhisperingStories More than 1 year ago
‘Still Life’ is the second book in the Chesapeake Valor series by best-selling American author, Dani Pettrey. We meet Avery when she attends a photo gallery at the behest of her friend, Skylar who was a model for one of the new exhibits. Avery is protective of her childhood friend and feels guilty for getting Skylar involved in the criminal underworld when they were young. Avery discovered a Christian faith and changed her life around; she would do anything to help Skylar do the same. As a professional photographer, Avery immediately realises something is very wrong when she sees the framed photograph of her friend and more to the point, Skylar is nowhere to be seen. To find Skylar, Avery joins forces with Parker, a crime scene analyst, who also happens to be the man she loves. Romance is always fraught with difficulties in novels, so inevitably they have emotional baggage which prevents them being together. As I haven’t read the previous book in the series, suddenly meeting several other characters in a very short space of time, threw me. However, I found out they were friends of Parker and all worked in some form of law enforcement. Each played their part to advance the story and it appeared they were mostly committed Christians who had no qualms with asking the Almighty for help with any tricky aspects of their investigations. A second plot angle was then introduced which I thought might connect with the main storyline but I suspect it is part of the ongoing theme running across the series. It did though serve the purpose of breaking up the action and adding to the suspense of the search for Skylar. The book is written in the third person and we see the action from the perspective of various characters. The title is a clever play on words and fits very well. The chapters are short with hooks at the end, so the author achieved her objective of tempting me to read just a little bit further, until I found I really couldn’t put it down. Each scene is beautifully set with descriptive passages which paint a vivid picture. I did wonder at one point if this was going to be a story where the characters never needed to sleep. However, I think to pre-empt any criticism, the author herself drew attention to the fact her players had been working for almost two days without a break. Whilst the subject matter is strong, there is no unnecessary violence or explicit scenes; indeed Avery and Parker are paragons of virtue. This multi-faceted book has an exciting plot with a secondary thread weaving through it and is layered over a love story. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Still Life’ and commend the author on a well-written story. I award a maximum five stars.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
If you haven't yet read my review for 'Cold Case', the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey, well it's really quite similar to the review you are about to read for 'Still Life'. I think my understanding and feel into the story is better since I read the books back to back, but there's still things I am struggling with. The same things that I struggled with before. I really want to like this author but I'm halfway through this series (as it stands right now) and I'm just meh. To be fair, I have a better grip on the characters this time around. I'm starting to consider the idea that I can keep them straight. Truth, some of the characters make better sense to my brain if I switch their names around. Crazy right? The faith elements still don't feel authentic. Too formal and too forced. I don't know many people that speak about their faith and God so formally. It detracts from the idea and feel of a true personal relationship. Finally, again, off screen everything. I felt disconnected from what was happening, not only with the characters, but also with the mystery with so many things being told after the fact. I was still drawn into the mystery, I was still trying to figure it all out when it was laid out for me. I didn't fall for the obvious distraction so for that I get something right? I'm still invested in this series, I'm still interested in this author. This book was a bit better than the first so the next book will be a bit better than this one right? That's the theory I'm going with today, anyway.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
If you haven't yet read my review for 'Cold Case', the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey, well it's really quite similar to the review you are about to read for 'Still Life'. I think my understanding and feel into the story is better since I read the books back to back, but there's still things I am struggling with. The same things that I struggled with before. I really want to like this author but I'm halfway through this series (as it stands right now) and I'm just meh. To be fair, I have a better grip on the characters this time around. I'm starting to consider the idea that I can keep them straight. Truth, some of the characters make better sense to my brain if I switch their names around. Crazy right? The faith elements still don't feel authentic. Too formal and too forced. I don't know many people that speak about their faith and God so formally. It detracts from the idea and feel of a true personal relationship. Finally, again, off screen everything. I felt disconnected from what was happening, not only with the characters, but also with the mystery with so many things being told after the fact. I was still drawn into the mystery, I was still trying to figure it all out when it was laid out for me. I didn't fall for the obvious distraction so for that I get something right? I'm still invested in this series, I'm still interested in this author. This book was a bit better than the first so the next book will be a bit better than this one right? That's the theory I'm going with today, anyway.
LGHudson More than 1 year ago
DYNAMIC! Book 2 in the Chesapeake Valor Series is a thriller! It can stand alone but it would be appreciated more if the Series was read in order. This is the story of Avery Tate (crime–scene photographer) and Parker Mitchell (crime–scene analyst) as they work to solve the mystery surrounding Avery’s missing friend. Along the way Avery must come face to face with things and people from her past. Excellent character development. The plot will keep you rapidly turning the pages. And the ending ... you will want MORE!
Freddikb More than 1 year ago
Avery Tate, a crime scene photographer, attends a gallery opening for which her friend modeled for the photographer. However, the image is a very disturbing one. Her friend is posing dead. What makes things more unsettling is the photographer whose name is on it insists he did not take that picture, and Avery’s friend cannot be found. Avery immediately calls in Parker, a friend as well as a crime scene analyst. They soon come face to face with a relentless, deadly threat. This is Book Two on the Chesapeake Valor series. I suggest reading them in order so you understand the main characters better. With that said, I read the first one and then this one. I made it about one hundred pages before I stopped reading Still Life. I could not connect with the events and how the story was written, unfortunately. It felt…. dull, to me. *I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. What I have expressed are entirely my own thoughts.*
Shay14 More than 1 year ago
Review from Faith * Love * Books Dani Pettrey adds another gripping novel to her Chesapeake Valor series with Still Life. From beginning to end, this book keeps you guessing. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a new clue would surface and I'd have to reassess. I absolutely LOVED that about this book. I'm so glad I got to catch back up with Griffin, Finley, Kate, Declan, and Tanner but I loved Avery and Parker's story. At the beginning, we see Avery and Parker both struggling with things in their past as well as their feelings for each other. In true Pettrey style, they are caught on a wild ride that brings them closer to each other and in the end, to love. I loved that the focus of the book, besides the mystery and romance (of course), was on Avery's struggle to let go of her past. How many of you have been there? I know I have. Once we become new creations in Christ, our past is just that - the past. Avery knew God had forgiven her, wiped her sins and past clean, but she struggled with forgiving herself. If you like thrilling stories, with spine tingling moments (even at the end..), a dash of romance, and of course a happy ending, Dani Pettrey's Still Life will not disappoint. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*
LVandercook More than 1 year ago
Still Life is the latest book in the Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey. I did not read the first book in the series, but I did not find the book hard to follow. I knew that there was a crime that was solved in a previous book, but it did not hurt the story that I did not know about it. Still Life deals with the murder of a young woman and the details surrounding her body are very graphic. Those who are sensitive to psychotic murders should steer clear of this book. That being said, it was a quick read, fast-paced, very interesting. Still Life focuses mainly on Parker and Avery’s relationship out of the friend-group that is the basis for the series. There were times in which I thought that their flirting was a little odd given the crime that they just learned about. It was also odd that Parker, years after his former girlfriend’s death, had trouble realizing that it was okay to move on. Avery’s hesitation seemed more plausible as she grew up in an abusive home. Still, the romance was generally sweet, and the book ends on a wonderful note about the couple. I would recommend this book to those who like a mystery interspersed with some romance. I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Bethany Publishing House.
MarB1 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this second book in the Chesapeake Valor series. I felt more connected with the characters than in the first book in this series; Cold Shot. Still Life is a treat for mystery lovers. I hadn’t figured out who murdered Skylar. Only when the author intended the reader to find out, I had my ‘aha’ moment. Parker and Avery are a nice couple, but they have to overcome obstacles before they can get serious. There’s another investigation going on as well, lead by Declan. The reader gets to know Declan well enough to look forward to the next book in the Chesapeake Valor series where no doubt Declan’s love story will be told while working a case. An interesting and suspenseful read that kept my attention throughout the story. Nicely done, Dani.
jebsweetpea More than 1 year ago
This is book 2 in the Chesapeake Valor Series by Dani Pettrey. A suspense mystery novel that will keep you wondering what will happen next. Book two is about photographer, Avery Tate, and her quest to find out about her missing friend who posed in an art gallery photo where she appeared to be dead. Avery and her new friends are on a mission to find the photographer behind the chilling photo. This book was suspenseful and kept you hanging with each turn of the page. A fast-paced action storyline where a few different plots kept you wondering how each one would turn out. I enjoyed the fact that there were a few smaller spotlights on other characters throughout the book. This helped peak the readers interest in the next book that may be coming in the series. These sub-plots were of a different nature than the main plot which kept the book moving along until the end. I started reading this book and realized I had no idea who any of the characters were, but was reading it as if they had already been introduced elsewhere. I ended up purchasing and reading the first book, Cold Shot, then jumped in to the 2nd book. That helped an immense amount in understanding the characters and more of their backstory and how they all related to each other. If you enjoy suspense mystery fiction, you will enjoy this book. Read the first book in the series'll make the second book more enjoyable and understandable to read! Bethany House Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own.
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
What a bunch of twists and turns and dead bodies that Dani Pettrey has woven into a riveting suspenseful romance novel! This is the second in the Chesapeake Valor novels – Cold Shot came before it. In Still Life the author highlights the romance/stories of Avery and Parker. Avery is a photographer, who, at the beginning of the book has gone to a gala to celebrate the opening of a photography exhibit as her childhood friend is a model for the photographer. When her friend Skylar doesn’t show and seems to have disappeared, Avery seeks the help of Parker, a crime scene investigator. Parker loves Avery (their romance began in the previous book) but can Avery trust him enough to love her, even with her past? And why did Skylar not show on the night of her big event? Mystery, romance, murder, abductions, forgiveness – it’s all inside! And I loved the wonderful descriptions of Baltimore and its surrounding areas! I had never heard of Fort Howard, the abandoned military base, and found it both fascinating and creepy! So I highly recommend this book if you like CSI type books – a real murder mystery that doesn’t shy away from frightening scenes but is clean in the language and sex scenes – and has a sweet romance. On the other hand, if you have a weak stomach like some of my friends, this one is not for you! I received this book from the publisher in return for my honest opinion.
lolly-pops More than 1 year ago
First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, STILL LIFE is a page-turner. I literally couldn't put this book down, except for things I had to do. Yes, it did get a bit creepy, but that just upped the chill factor. And as for who-dun-it? I did get a bit confused there and didn't guess the actual murderer until the person was revealed. I loved the presence of the Coast Guard (my son is in that service) and "seeing" them in action. There are two different mysteries in this book, and I kept waiting for them to merge into one, but they never did, which somewhat confused me. I didn't have any problem keeping up with characters, and absolutely fell in love with Parker and Avery--though I did feel kind of sorry for Parker's photographer at the end of the book. I LOVED Ms. Pettrey's Alaskan suspense series, and while this new series is not quite on the same love category, it is definitely a solid placer. If you love romantic suspense, you'll want to read Ms. Pettrey's STILL LIFE.
SignGirl58 More than 1 year ago
There could always be challenges of jumping into a story part-way through, but reading "Still Life," the second of Dani Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor series, was an easy transition. Of course, reading "Cold Shot" wouldn't have hurt as I would have had a better understanding of the characters and the couple stories that are created in the first novel. Avery Tate and Parker Mitchell are maybe the characters in the limelight for "Still Life," but there are many other crime scene participants and colleagues who have their fair share of print. The one surprise I had is that a story break did not necessarily mean that the story would shift to another set of characters. The mingled stories and constant moving story line made for an exciting read... even so that at one point I had wished I was not reading during the dark of night! Enjoy this action-packed book and pick up your own copy of "Still Life"! I received this book complimentary from Bethany House Publishing and I am excited to share my honest review!
MeezCarrie More than 1 year ago
Can we all just pause a moment and appreciate that cover? I have two words for you that will make that hot guy even hotter. Irish. Accent. Yep. My book-boyfriend-collecting heart swooned right into a little puddle when, after Avery has been knocked down by an assailant, Parker wiggles two fingers at her and says: “Come here, lass. Let me check you out.” So… let’s just take another moment or ten to absorb the fineness of that cover and know that he speaks with an Irish brogue. (Is brogue the right word to use here? I don’t know… i’m still twitterpated.) But I’m reviewing the book, not the cover, aren’t I? Still Life is Dani Pettrey at her best! Part psychological thriller, part romantic suspense, this book is all kinds of captivating. You won’t be able to put it down. There are two races against the clock going on – find Avery’s friend … and find a possible terrorist. And the gang from Cold Shot returns to tackle both searches. (If you haven’t already read book 1, it’s not necessary before you read Still Life but you’ll appreciate the characters and one of the subplots better if you do.) Pettrey’s latest is also a study in contrasts, which I think fits so poignantly with the photography theme. For one thing, you have the contrast between Avery and Skylar, between a life whose past has been redeemed by Jesus and a life still lived for her own purposes. We see the difference between refugees just looking for safety and those who mean harm. There’s the contrast between life and death, darkness and light, and there’s the exquisitely tender message that the old has gone and that Jesus makes us new. Bottom Line: Still Life by Dani Pettrey shows the darkest side of humanity as well as the strength of redemption. The suspense and mystery is extremely well-written, and the romance gives plenty of opportunity for swooning. The subthread related to their friend Luke – who may or may not be dead – gets even more intriguing in this second installment in the series, and I have a feeling that book 3 will be even more so. I can’t wait! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)
VJoyPalmer More than 1 year ago
If you like to watch Criminal Minds, Bones, NCIS, or even Psych, then you will LOVE Still Life by Dani Pettrey! First things first, I would recommend that you read Cold Shot, the first book in the series, before reading Still Life. Otherwise the dynamics within the group might confuse you. The first chapter immediately drew me into the story, but the first third of the novel moved at a slower pace. Then it took off like lightning again! Excellent pacing! A certain fellow was supremely creepy. *shudder* Twists and turns plague you on every page. Also, as some of my fellow bloggers have mentioned, this cover is seriously swoon worthy! I loved Parker (and his accent!) and Avery. I enjoyed seeing them grapple with trusting God in ways they hadn't been. Between 3 1/2 and 4 Stars. A good, enjoyable read. Still Life is the second book in Dani Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor Series. Book three, Blind Spot, releases in October 2017! I found the set up for this upcoming book to be very well done. I received a copy of Still Life by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.
MichelleKrim More than 1 year ago
I'm thoroughly enjoying this series! I love how the books are closely connected and we get to see the build-up of each couple's relationship. Still Life has such a great blend or romance and danger that made it a difficult book to put down. I really enjoyed the investigative side of the story and how the whole group works together to solve the crime. While this story is more focused around Parker and Avery, Declan, Griffin and the rest of the gang have big roles too. Plot: Avery Tate shows up at an art exhibit in support of her best friend Skylar, who is the model for a well-known photographer, but Skylar never shows up. When the photographer claims that one of the pictures hanging up isn't one he took and demands it be destroyed, Avery knows she must save the evidence. There's something about the picture that makes Avery concerned for her friend's safety. Crime scene investigator Parker Mitchell is one of the best at what he does. While he enjoys working with Avery,Parker won't let her get too close. As they dig deeper into Skylar's disappearance, Avery's past is unraveled and she fears it will drive Parker farther away. Characters: Having been introduced to Avery and Parker in the previous story, they've had plenty of time to develop a great chemistry. Avery's overcome a less than perfect past. Parker hasn't completely gotten over losing his first love. They made a great team before, but they'll have to risk their hearts if they're going to work together again. Content: This is a clean read. I'd consider it appropriate for any readers. Given that there's a murder in the book, it contains a little violence, but nothing graphic. Recommendation: I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys romantic suspense. It's the second book in the Chesapeake Valor series and I'd recommend reading them in order as there are some threads continued throughout the series. Rating: 4.5/5 stars I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. This review is my honest opinion.
bsnksmom More than 1 year ago
Crime scene photographer, Avery Tate, is excited for her friend, Skylar Pierce. Sky’s modeling career is finally taking off and she’s the featured subject of a major photographic art exhibit. Maybe now Skylar can move out of the trailer park where they both grew up and they can both put their pasts behind them. When Avery arrives at the exhibit, she is disgusted by the images she sees. All of the models photographed appear to be dead but each has enough spark of life in their eyes that Avery sees the illusion created by the photographer. Skylar’s picture, though, is different. Skylar genuinely appears to be dead and there is no spark of life in her eyes. Sky had invited Avery to come, insisting that she would meet Avery there. Where is she and is Sky that good a model or did the photographer do something awful to her friend? Parker Mitchell, independent crime scene investigator, used to employ Avery as his photographer so he knows that if she’s spooked about something, he needs to pay attention. As the two delve into Sky’s disappearance, pieces of Avery’s past crash into her present. Can Parker and the rest of his friends find an apparent killer before Avery becomes his next victim? If you read Dani Pettrey’s first book in the Chesapeake Valor series, Cold Shot, then you NEED to follow that up by reading Still Life! While Still Life can be read as a standalone novel it is WAY better if you’ve read Cold Shot, too. There is an ensemble cast of characters that flow from one book to the other and book 2 builds on what book 1 started. You’ll enjoy meeting Declan Grey, Griffin McCray, Finley Scott, Tanner Shaw and Kate Maxwell. Each has a specific skill, each works for a different branch of government law enforcement and each would do anything to help one of the others in the group. Mystery/suspense lovers will love this book. I completely had the wrong guy pegged as the killer until the reveal at the end, and that doesn’t happen to me often! I look forward to book 3, Blind Spot, scheduled for publication in October 2017. Can’t wait to read it! I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley. The review is my honest opinion.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
WOW - FANTASTIC - are the first two words that come to mind when I think of the novel. The story is imaginative, hideously good, elaborate and descriptive. The author sure took their time to build the characters and what their roles would be. To have the villain's thoughts brought out is creepy and awesome you can't get any better than that. Dani Pettrey has you guessing who, what and definitely where they are. The law enforcement officers have everything in control - especially since they leave all things in the hands of GOD. In GOD's hands all things are safe. So, do they find the villain? Do the two law enforcement officers fall for each other? Do they let GOD heal their pasts so they can move on? Is the girl safe? This and many more questions can be answered by reading this advantageous book. It is well worth it. I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
LisetteRue More than 1 year ago
When Avery Tate was blacklisted in the photography world, she answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer and, much to her surprise, nabbed it. But now Avery has returned to the photography world to support her childhood friend, Skylar Pierce, as she headlines an “it” photographer’s showing. But Skylar doesn’t show up, and all Avery sees is a chilling photo that the photographer didn’t take featuring a friend who appears dead. Skylar calls Dr. Parker Mitchell when she can’t find Skylar, and it’s obvious that someone has cased her trailer home. In the search for Skylar, one of their suspects has perverse interests and stalker tendencies. But is he a cold-blooded killer? With appealing protagonists, a complex plot, certain creatively eccentric (that’s putting it nicely) characters and a probable killer, this second story in Pettrey’s ‘Chesapeake Valor’ series is both harrowing and exciting. The story was fast-paced from the Prologue to the end. There was a sub-plot that didn’t entirely seem to fit, one involving Special Agent Declan Grey, but I’m guessing it is setting up the next story. Whether or not you’re a reader of inspirational novels, Pettrey’s stories are standouts if you enjoy suspense fiction. It’s a rollercoaster that drops you, takes you upside down and goes at high speeds, but also has moments of sass and faith and camaraderie. -- Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are expressly my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than the first! Gripping all the way through!
ZoeyHetrick More than 1 year ago
Dani Pettrey’s book, Still Life, is a story of both life and love. Taking place in the heart of America, crime scene investigators race to discover a young missing woman, who has a tendency to put herself in dangerous situations. I rate this book 4.8 out of 5 stars, as the plot line captured my full attention the entire time. However, there are a handful of grammatical errors as well as a few sentences that could be easily paraphrased to sound much better. Call me the grammar police, but these things are worth checking. Aside from these very minor flaws, I would strongly recommend this novel to any Christian woman looking for a good read. I know that I, myself am looking forward to the release of book three! Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a blessed day loves!
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in this series that I have read, and yes it is just as good as the first, and once you turn that first page, you won’t be putting it down. Now if you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry, enough information is given that you won’t be lost, but you will be wanting to read Cold Shot! There are a couple of stories going on here, as there would be in real life, but for Avery this one is personal, one of her friends is missing, and she is feeling guilty about it. Avery has found Christ and has turned her life around, and we can only hope she shared with Skylar, as this story revolves around the picture of her in death. Did you ever have the feeling that someone was watching you, Avery better start looking over her shoulder, but why, and who is doing this? We take a jagged trail to find the answers here, but all the while we keep hoping for romance between Avery and Parker, whom I would love to hear him talk! From the first to the last page the book will have you page turning with you heart in your throat, and yes you have to get to the end to get the answers, and now we have to wait for the next book in this series. I received this book through Bethany House Publishing and their Blogging Program, and was not required to give a positive review.