Reviews

Book Review: GRIT: A Spartan Riders Novel

GRIT: A Spartan Riders Novel,

by J.C. Valentine

Publication: J.C. Valentine; 1 edition; April 19, 2016

GritAbout the book: 

Gabby Morgan isn’t looking for love. Not even a little romance. Following a rocky past that she’d just as soon forget, she’s determined to focus on the future. One that most certainly doesn’t involve the tough-as-nails, short-on-words, hot-as-hell biker…or his kid.

Blake Mahone may not be done with women, but he’s finished with relationships. Then Gabby Morgan enters the picture. She’s flawless, refined, and as his kid’s teacher, way out of his league. She acts like she hates him, but her eyes tell a different story. Before he knows it, Blake finds himself hot for teacher, and he’s more than ready to learn all her secrets. Now all he has to do is convince her to give him a shot…without getting them both killed in the process.

My Review:

So, GRIT was not on my review or TBR list, however, I came across it on Amazon and was intrigued. I’ve read a few MC novels from various authors and have become a fan, and this one did not disappoint! 

This first novel in the Spartan Riders series focuses on the club’s President, Blake and his son’s teacher, Gabby. Neither Blake or Gabby have had luck in the love department, and now Blake is raising his five-year-old son alone and Gabby has returned to live with her parents as she starts her teaching career. The first few meetings between them are far from amicable, but the attraction between them is instant. Blake doesn’t want another relationship again and certainly doesn’t want to trust another woman, whereas, Gabby is running from her own horrible past and is afraid to trust another biker. 

GRIT is definitely a steamy romance, but there is so much more to this novel. The characters are fantastic, there’s suspense, and a ton of conflict making the reader wonder will they or won’t they regarding Blake and Gabby. Blake’s son, Ash, is absolutely adorable. He’s smart, mature, funny, and just an overall sweetheart. Blake is a badass biker dude but is also incredibly sweet, loyal, and protective. Just like Gabby did in the novel, I struggled with some of his “old lady” comments about claiming her, but I chose to overlook that as a biker thing and moved on. 

Something I wasn’t expecting but was pleasantly surprised about was that the overall theme of this novel centered around trust and love. Blake’s biggest dealbreaker was lying and it took awhile for that to sink in with Gabby, just as it took her awhile to trust him. The thing about this novel that I loved was watching Blake try to be a tough guy rather than wearing his heart on his sleeve – and I must admit that I developed quite a crush on him in the process. 

This novel is exciting, suspenseful, tense, sexy, and sweet all wrapped up in one perfect package. If you are a romance fan, especially involving MC clubs, then make sure and grab this one! As soon as I finished I went back to Amazon and downloaded the 2nd in the series. Even more exciting, I just realized that a 3rd is coming out in August which I am jumping up and down over!!! I’m so glad I discovered this novel and series, but especially that I discovered the talented and entertaining J.C. Valentine!

Get your copy of GRIT: A Spartan Riders Novel on Amazon!

Reviews

Book Review: Locked In

Locked In, by Anna Chastain

Publication: June 20, 2017

locked inAbout the book: 

“My name is Grace Donovan and my whole world is about to change.”
Grace and Ben have been together since they were teenagers.
They are in love, with each other, and their two children.
They’ve spent their entire adult life together, happy in the small southern California beach town they call home; until one day Ben comes home and tells Grace he’s leaving.
Now, Grace is left wondering what happened to her life, to her home, and when exactly did things start to go so wrong. To find out, she turns to the place she didn’t even realize she was missing, the place she grew up, and the place she still considers home. With the help of her family and friends and the ocean, Grace begins to rebuild her life and remind herself where it is she truly wants to be…and, whether or not that life includes her husband. Locked In is a story about love and forgiveness, about riding the waves of life, and it is about how we continually reshape ourselves but never really feel grown up.

MyReview:

Who, What, When, etc.

Grace lives in a California beach town with their two young children, and have been together since they were teenagers. Grace starts to notice that Ben is absent from their lives more and more until one night he turns her world upset down as he announces that he is leaving. Not only is he leaving, but he claims he has met “someone,” and the other woman ends up being someone that Grace knows. 

As Grace tries to understand what happened, and as she agrees to go to counseling with Ben, she begins spending more time in the coastal town where she grew up. Between visiting with her family and old friends and getting back on a surf board, she begins to look at her marriage and Ben differently as she figures out what she wants and needs. 

Thoughts & Reactions

As always, I completely loved this newest novel from Anna Chastain. To begin with, her stories and characters are so realistic and it’s so easy relating to their situations. Grace is raising two young children while Ben works all hours. She gets frustrated and lonely having to carry the weight of taking care of the children and home while never knowing if Ben will be home for dinner or to kiss the kids before bed. Other than picking up the kids or attending birthday parties, Grace doesn’t do very much socializing and is slowing isolating herself more and more. 

Ben’s unhappy with his promotion that took them from The Cove where they grew up to Hammer Beach. He thought Grace wanted the bigger house and nicer cars but he misses his earlier position in building and construction. After leaving her claiming that he had met someone, he later clarifies that the relationship was not physical and he was just trying to get Grace’s attention. 

So, there you go. Two parents overwhelmed with day to day life and doing a shitty job of communicating what they really need or want. Who hasn’t experienced this in their marriage? Ben and Grace’s story is not uncommon, but their love was unique and truly moving. Even when Ben was announcing that he was leaving, the author’s writing made you feel the love between them. At times, she also made it very easy to feel anger and hurt, but the characterization was amazing and definitely made this novel special.

The only character I was “on the fence” about was Grace’s brother Dean. He seemed overly grouchy to me, but then again he was home on leave from the military, being protective over his sister, etc. I am thinking that there may be a sequel devoted to Dean’s character, and if so, I look forward to understanding him more. 

Locked In is a quick read that you will devour in one sitting. It is romantic, real, and reminds the reader not to take the ones you love for granted and not to get too wrapped up in daily routine. I highly recommend this to fans of women’s fiction and romance and readers that crave everyday characters. 

*Many thanks to the fabulous author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Locked In on Amazon!

 

Book Blitz, Giveaway, Reviews

Book tour & giveaway: Swept into Love

NEW RELEASE….

The Ryders are a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom series. These hot contemporary romance novels feature alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They’re flawed, funny, passionate, and relatable to readers who enjoy passionate contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

In SWEPT INTO LOVE…

It’s been years since Sally Tuft’s husband died and she was left to raise her teenage son alone. And almost as long since she told the only other man she’d ever wanted that they should be just friends. Now her son has left for college and Sally has no distractions to keep her from thinking about her best friend and coworker, Gage Ryder, and what could have been.

Gage always believed that one day Sally would move past the death of her husband and they would finally explore the passion that’s simmered between them since the day they met. Tasked with opening a new youth center in Oak Falls, Virginia, Gage hopes the trip away is just what they need to finally come together.

Before Gage and Sally ever reach Oak Falls, one night at a conference changes everything, putting their friendship–and their love–on the line, and the two must decide if getting swept up in love is the beginning of forever, or the end of their friendship as they know it.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

GET MORE RYDERS!

Seized by Love (Blue)
Claimed by Love (Duke)
Chased by Love (Trish)
Rescued by Love (Jake)
Swept Into Love (Gage)

The RYDERS are part of the LOVE IN BLOOM big family romance collection. Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.

Available to buy from……
Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com    Barnes and Noble    KOBO    iBooks   GPlay

My Review:

I am so excited for my day on the book tour for Melissa Foster’s Swept into Love! Part of the Ryders series, this time it’s Gage’s story and it is so romantic!

Gage and Sally have been best friends for years, doing things that normal couples would do. They buy gifts for others together, share dinners, work together, and Gage has been like a father to Sally’s son Rusty. Sally’s husband Dave died in a skiing accident almost 6 years earlier, and both Sally and Gage have ignored their feelings for one another. But now that Rusty has been away at college for a few years, things definitely start to change between them. 

I loved Gage and Sally’s story for several reasons, but it was basically just the incredible chemistry, love, and respect between the two of them. They were practically the perfect couple already as best friends, but once they admit their true feelings, they are unstoppable. There are several other familiar characters interlaced in the story (Blue, Jake, Trish, etc), but overall, it’s all about Gage, Sally, and Rusty.

I won’t give any spoilers, of course, but get ready for a different kind of story this time, compared to a lot of Melissa’s other novels. This romance is written differently from the others, but also made it once of the sweetest and romantic novels of hers that I have read! This is a fast-paced novel that you should prepare to be sucked in to. You will want to finish Swept into Love in one sitting, so don’t start this one if you have to be somewhere in an hour! As always, I was left feeling romantic, smiling, and full of love after reading Melissa Foster, but something about Swept into Love stands out to me, easily making this one of my favorite novels she has written. 

 

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You can always rely on Melissa Foster to deliver a story that’s fresh, emotional and entertaining. Make sure you have all night, because once you start you won’t want to stop reading. Every book’s a winner!” New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely

Also available in The Ryders

Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.

Seized by Love, Love in Bloom: The Ryders #1 

YOU FELL IN love with Blue Ryder and Lizzie Barber in Seaside Summers, now follow their journey to find true love in SEIZED BY LOVE, the first book in the Ryder series

Lizzie Barber runs a successful flower shop by day and secretly hosts the Naked Baker webcast at night to help pay for her younger sister’s education. To keep friends and family from finding out about her sexy secret, she’s put her social life on hold until her sister’s education is paid off and she can stop filming the webcast.

Blue Ryder fell hard for Lizzie Barber when he met her a year ago, and he hasn’t been able to get her off his mind since. Everything about the feisty little brunette, from her tight bod to her seductive smile, cuts straight to his heart. Though Lizzie has turned down every invitation he’s extended—Blue is not about to give up trying.

Renovating Lizzie’s kitchen brings Blue further into Lizzie’s life, and the oven is not the only thing heating up. One night and one powerful kiss changes everything. But when Lizzie’s secret is revealed and the safe bubble she’s hidden in shatters, true love may not be enough to put the pieces back together.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from …
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    KOBO    iBooks

Claimed by Love, Love in Bloom: The Ryders #2 

Family law attorney Gabriella Liakos has one true love, Elpitha Island, where she grew up and hopes someday to return. But Elpitha is in financial ruins, and Gabriella will do anything to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

Duke Ryder is a savvy real estate investor set on making Elpitha into an exclusive resort. Unlike other investors, he’s not scared of purchasing a property where one family has roots so deep they practically reach the ocean floor…until he meets his beautiful, stubborn, and enticing tour host―the daughter of the owner of most of the island.

Gabriella sets out to dissuade Duke from purchasing Elpitha, but Duke has other ideas. He wants Gabriella and the island. Duke’s powerful seduction draws Gabriella in, but can a savvy investor who’s used to glamour and glitz, and a woman interested in preserving the culture she adores find a happily ever after together?

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from…
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    KOBO   iBooks

Chased by Love, Love in Bloom: The Ryders #3

Actress Trish Ryder takes her job seriously and has no time for those who don’t. When she’s awarded a major role in a new movie featuring America’s hottest rock star, Boone Stryker, she’s beyond excited. The six-two, tattooed hunk of burning desire is known for his dedication to his craft–but when he ditches their first meeting, she begins to wonder if he’s just another rocker with a great PR team.

Sex, booze, women, and music pretty much sum up Boone Stryker’s private world. He’s coasted through life playing by his own rules with plenty of people willing to cover his tracks, and he’s not likely to change–until he meets a woman who refuses to give him the time of day, much less anything more.

Sparks fly from the first moment Trish and Boone meet–Tensions run hot and desire runs hotter when they’re trapped together on a remote location with no place to hide. Will sparks ignite, or will a hurricane douse the flames?

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from …
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    KOBO   iBooks

Rescued by Love, Love in Bloom: The Ryders #4

As the daughter of a world-renowned fashion designer, Addison Dahl enjoyed a privileged life attending the most sought after parties, traveling around the world, and having anything she wanted. Until she broke free and went against her father’s wishes, needing to prove to herself–and to him–that she could make it on her own. Now she’s ready to take her adventures in a new direction and sets her sights on roughing it in the wilderness.

Jake Ryder followed in his father’s footsteps as a top search and rescue professional. He spends his days saving those in need and his nights in the arms of willing women who offer nothing more than a few hours of sexual enjoyment. Just the way he likes it.

When Jake’s sister-in-law calls, concerned because she’s been unable to reach her best friend, it’s up to Jake to find her and bring her home. But Addison isn’t lost, and she sure as hell isn’t going to be told what to do by an ornery mountain man with whom she’d spent one torrid weekend after her best friend’s wedding. Jake has never left anyone behind–will Addison be his first failed rescue?

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from…… 
Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com    Barnes and Noble    KOBO    iBooks   GPlay

About the author

Melissa writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented.

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook or her personal website.

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DOWNLOAD 5 FREE EBOOKS! 

Start 4 of Melissa’s bestselling Love in Bloom series FREE! 

Download Today -Sisters in Love (Snow Sisters), Lovers at Heart (The Bradens), Game of Love (The Remingtons), Seaside Dreams (Seaside Summers), and Taken by Love (The Bradens at Trusty).

Follow the Book Tour

018836-glossy-silver-icon-symbols-shapes-square-2 I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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Reviews

Book Review: Katwalk

Katwalk, by Maria Murnane

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; August 12, 2014

katwalkAbout the book: 

Katrina Lynden has always walked a straight line in life, an approach that has resulted in a stable career and pleased her hard-nosed parents but that has also left her feeling unfulfilled—and miserable. When her best friend suggests they quit their Silicon Valley jobs and embark on two months of adventure in New York City, Katrina balks at the idea but ultimately agrees, terrified yet proud of herself for finally doing something interesting with her life. But when her friend has to back out at the last minute, Katrina finds herself with a tough decision to make. Much to her surprise, she summons the courage to go alone, and the resulting journey changes everything. Along the way, she makes new friends, loses others, learns what is really important to her, and finds a way to grow up without leaving herself behind.

My Review

Who, What, When, etc.

Katwalk is the story of Katrina Lynden, a young woman living in Silicon Valley, working as an accountant in an advertising agency. Katrina’s best friend, Deb, convinces Katrina to quit their jobs and head to New York for a few months for an adventure, but when Deb tries to quit, she is offered a promotion. Shy, reserved Katrina has already quit so heads off to New York on her own. 

Upon her arrival at her new apartment, she meets her neighbors Shana and Grace, then soon meet’s Grace’s boyfriend Josh when she goes with them for drinks, something that Katrina never does. An old college friend Brittany introduces her to the handsome but married Reid, and Katrina soon meets the very good-looking and charming barista, Justin. 

With her new friends calling her Kat, she starts sight-seeing, trying new things, and eventually finds herself in the big city with new dreams.

Thoughts and Reactions

As frequent readers already know, I am a huge fan of Maria Murnane and her stories about young women finding their way in this crazy world. In the beginning of the novel, I can’t say I was a huge fan of the main character. She was so incredibly shy and unsure of herself that it was frustrating. However, after arriving in New York and meeting new people, Kat slowly started to find and reveal her true self and true passion in life. 

I loved the plot of this novel that was fast-paced with the perfect amount of subplots on the side, however, the main focus was Kat and her new adventures. Specifically, I admired the way the author brought her out of her shell at a realistic pace and didn’t base Kat’s happiness on just one thing. She had attention from men that she had never experienced, wild and crazy friends that wanted to hit the bars all of the time, she started exercising and getting healthy, and she started following her heart about what she wanted out of life. All of these things combined were a part of Kat’s changes, rather than just a guy or a new job. 

As typical in Maria Murnane’s novels, I fell in love with all of the characters. They each brought their own unique contributions to the novel and were special in their own ways, even when they were being bad, such as Reid. Shana and Grace were fantastic, hilarious, and genuinely wonderful people – as was Grace’s boyfriend Josh. Brittany seemed genuinely nice in her friendship with Kat, yet she was so completely different from Kat she almost seemed like a mother. The only character I truly disliked from beginning to end was Kat’s mother. She was snooty, bossy, controlling, and drove me insane. 

Katwalk will definitely instill some wanderlust and inspiration into your soul, as well as, leave a smile on your face after you’ve finished reading. I have yet to read anything by author Maria Murnane that I didn’t find absolutely wonderful, and Katwalk is no exception. 

*Many thanks to Maria Murnane for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Katwalk on Amazon!

Learn more about Maria Murnane!

Reviews

Book Review: When We Were Worthy

When We Were Worthy,

by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; September 12, 2017

worthyAbout the book: 

A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurdles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

When We Were Worthy is the upcoming novel from author Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and it is a page-turner. In a tiny town named Worthy, it’s Friday night and time for high school football. After the win and when it’s time for the after-parties, three of the star cheerleaders – Brynne, Keary, and Mary Claire – are killed in a car accident. Another student, Graham, was driving the other car involved and is in the hospital. Surprisingly, the girls’ other best friend, Leah, was not with them.

Several other characters are involved but the novel is told from the points of view of the three cheerleaders in the accident, Mary Claire’s mother, Marglyn, Graham’s mother Darcy, Ava, a substitute teacher, and Leah, the friend left behind. 

As the town begins to mourn and try to move forward after this tragedy, secrets begin to reveal themselves involving guilt, lies, betrayals, and unimaginable crimes. 

Thoughts & Reactions

Warning to parents of teenagers – this novel is a nightmare! This town and the families went through complete hell with the loss of the three girls, Graham’s injuries and accusations regarding the accident, plus all of the other drama and anger being tossed around. The novel is tricky because it starts out intriguing, then slows a bit, then the drama and suspense increase until the end. I did find myself somewhat bored in the middle, but by the end, I realized the reasoning behind a lot of the details and everything tied together. 

Initially, I struggled with so many different points of view, but again, this ended up feeling right in the end despite all of the different stories going on at once. Marglyn, Mary Claire’s mother, was feeling guilty over missing her daughter’s game, in addition to, frequent mother-daughter spats they had been having – both due to Marglyn helping a young girl named Ginny. Darcy was not only concerned about her son Graham healing from the accident and the backlash of supposedly “causing the accident,” but was also still healing from her husband leaving her for another woman. Ava was a mysterious character and a substitute at the high school since moving back to Worthy so her husband Clay could run his parents’ restaurant. Then there was Leah that was basically just a walking secret and had an odd relationship with her mother and her friend/boyfriend Talmedge. 

If this novel sounds somewhat “busy” it is, but all of the varying subplots made this an incredible and suspenseful read. The author slowly revealed secrets and details making this a novel that I couldn’t wait to finish so that I could know what exactly happened and why. This is by no means a feel-good novel, but one of drama and suspense that eventually embodies justice and peace. If you are a fan of thrillers that slowly unravel secrets, then this should be the next novel on your TBR. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Pre-Order When We Were Worthy on Amazon.

Learn more about Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

 

Reviews

Book Review: The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away,

by Melissa Pimentel

Publication:  St. Martin’s Press; August 22, 2017

the oneAbout the book: 

Melissa Pimentel delivers smart, funny, and modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where a young woman comes face-to-face with a lost love, proving that the one that got away is sometimes the one you get back.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Ten years later, Ruby’s single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . .

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc. 

Ruby is in her early thirties and spends the majority of each day at her office where she works in advertising. Her only real romance was ten years earlier when she met and fell in love with Ethan Bailey, whom she now sees all of the time due to his face being on magazine covers because of his brilliant techie career. Ruby heads off to England for her sister Piper’s wedding to Charlie, Ethan’s best friend, nervous about coming face to face with him again after so much time. Jess, Ruby’s best friend that is now married, pregnant, and living in New Jersey, urges Ruby to open her heart to see if there is still a spark between her and Ethan, but Ruby is reluctant.

Thoughts & Reactions

The One That Got Away is a bit tricky to review. The reason being that I was not crazy about the characters. I loved Ruby’s best friend Jess, there was a local doctor in England named Chris that I liked, and I grew to like Ruby’s stepmother, Candace. Ethan and Charlie were o.k. also, but despite this, it did not make up for the fact that I didn’t like Ruby, her father, and especially Piper. Piper was the epitome of a spoiled, hypochondriac narcissist. Honestly, those words may be too kind for Piper.

Ruby had some moments that made her almost likable, but overall, she was a selfish, work addicted, depressed, whiny person. Her and Ethan were in love when she left for New York, but she quickly became this miserable shell of herself, putting only work and the needs of her boss first. She withdrew, became dishonest, and lost sight of the love her and Ethan had shared. 

With that being said, I enjoyed the plot and storyline of the novel quite a bit! How romantic (and nerve-wracking) to meet up with a long-lost love ten years later at a romantic wedding in a castle in England?? Dealing with all of the family members, her God-awful sister, an old flame at an overseas wedding all added up to amazing potential for a novel. Then throw in two hottie, crazy-successful twins/bridesmaids to spark some jealousy, and the story became even better. But again, my enjoyment was somewhat dampened because of the characters. I also wish that the author would have alternated points of view between Ruby and Ethan. With everything coming from Ruby, it was frustrating even attempting to guess what was going through Ethan’s mind. 

I feel like I’ve been so negative but I did like The One That Got Away. Something about the novel had spunk to it and for me, it was a fast-paced page turner! Surprisingly, although I wasn’t crazy about the characters, I would love to see a sequel to this one to find out what happens with everyone. It was a good, quick read, but not the best thing I’ve read recently. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Learn more about Melissa Pimentel!

Pre-Order The One That Got Away on Amazon.

Reviews

Book Review: Where in the Dark

Where in the Dark (A Cydney Granger Thriller Book 2),

 by Karen Millie-James

Publication: King of the Road Publishing Limited; September 4, 2017

where in the darkAbout the book: 

Two envelopes. Two Holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer
bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic
investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave,
enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth
behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden
Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her
husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier, Cydney puts her
personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice
an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed
name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US
presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against
humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former
sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding
her husband?

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back
before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a
banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which
there is only one final solution.

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile,
a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s
corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men
will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc. 

Where in the Dark is the second novel in the Cydney Granger series, and once again brings a ton of secrets, crime, and suspense. After the death of her husband Steve years earlier, Cydney is living with her teenage twin children and her husband’s best friend, Sean, who promised Steve he would look after his family if something happened to him. Cydney’s romance with George has bloomed and they are a happy family together. 

Cydney’s close friend/father figure Rupert is back this time and refers his friends and Holocaust survivors Harold and Alfie to Cydney when they each receive one million dollar bearer bonds in the mail. The investigation into the bonds takes Cydney to West Virginia in search of who mailed the bonds and why, while Sean is investigating whether or not Steve is really dead. 

Cydney is once again contacted by spirits that not only aid in her investigation regarding the bonds but help her solve the puzzle regarding her supposedly deceased husband. 

Thoughts and Reactions

Let me begin with trigger warnings regarding this novel. There is a great deal of content regarding the mistreatment of the Jewish people during WWII. Although relevant, Karen Millie-James did a great deal of research and included this detailed research regarding the treatment of those held in concentration camps throughout the novel. 

Now, let me attempt to explain how incredible this novel is without giving spoilers, of course. Where in the Dark is a suspense/thriller, but at a higher level with a complex plot and extremely complex characters. Once Harold and Alfie contact Cydney regarding the bonds, things quickly begin unfolding leaving a trail of puzzle pieces.

The bonds are traced to a bank in West Virginia, but one that also had branches in Germany at one point. That bank is owned by an Albert Whiteman, who used to be known as Adolf Weissmuller when he was a member of the Third Reich. At ninety years old, Albert has been confessing the sins of his life and trying to seek some sort of forgiveness, however, Albert’s Nazi ties risk the future of the bank his family built, as well as his son’s future – his son being the Governor of West Virginia with plans to run as a Presidential candidate. 

Running parallel to the investigation into the bonds is the investigation into whether or not Cydney’s husband is still alive and being held by a unit of the Special Forces. Sean has been helping and caring for Cydney and the children since Steve’s “death,” but now a tension rises between them as he tries to learn what has really happened to Steve.

Back to my assertion earlier about this being a higher level suspense thriller, there is nothing simple or easy about the plot of this novel. Karen-Millie James crafted very detailed sub-plots that not only enhance the story but make it completely fascinating. Don’t get me wrong, this is a difficult read at times and not a novel that you will breeze through quickly. However, everything is tied together seamlessly as she slowly reveals the whole picture.

Something I enjoy and respect about Millie-James’ writing is her characterization. Regardless of how secondary a character appears, her writing ensures that you can see and hear this character, in addition to knowing a great deal about them. There are no blanks or question marks after reading this novel or her previous novel, based on her impeccable character development. 

On a personal note, I have even more respect for the author and her writing because of the amount of research that went into this novel. Being that I am in the United States and in Virginia (right next door to West Virginia, for those not from the U.S.), Karen Millie-James asked me questions that seemed so mundane, yet it all made since once I read the novel, such as, “what would someone in West Virginia call their father and grandfather? or What do you know about West Virginia politics?)

Not only is the novel outstanding, but it is based on research, as well as, personal family history of Karen Millie-James and her ancestors. Anyone interested in an intelligent, thought-provoking suspense/crime thriller, Where in the Dark should be placed at the top of your TBR. 

*Many thanks to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Pre-Order Where in the Dark on Amazon!

Learn more about Karen Millie-James by visiting her web page. 

 

Book Blitz, Giveaway, Reviews

Release, review, & giveaway: Aim

 

 

Title: Aim
Series: Circle of Justice
Author: LP Dover
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: August 7, 2017
Blurb
When someone asks
what I do for a living, I answer it plain and simple . . . I’m a hunter. I hunt
the dregs of society and I’m very damn good at it.
I’m Ian Chandler,
FBI agent and a member of the Circle of Justice, an organization of justice
seeking vigilantes. My mission is to solve a string of ‘accidental’ hiking
deaths occurring around my Wyoming town. When Grace Myers –a woman who’s been
missing for days –shows up on my land, it turns out she’s the key to it all.
Someone is hunting her, and I make it my duty to keep her safe.
However, the deeper
I get into the case, the more dangerous it becomes; especially, now that I’ve
fallen for the woman I have to protect. If hunting is the game, I won’t fail. I
always hit my mark. 

**My Review**

Aim is the latest in the Circle of Justice novels by L.P. Dover. I have not read any of the other novels, however, they are each standalone so it didn’t matter in the least!

Grace Myers is a young woman in her small Wyoming town that is a successful marketing and event planner for a hotel. She has been flirting with the secretive and sexy Ian Chandler and they’ve even shared a kiss, but she hasn’t heard from him in awhile. One night she is kidnapped while leaving the hotel and Ian is contacted by Grace’s Dad, Colton, a local police officer, requesting his help in finding her. When Grace turns up on Ian’s porch, they get busy trying to figure out who kidnapped Grace and why, while also falling for one another. 

Grace was an immediately likable character that was sweet, charming, beautiful, smart, and so on. Devoting most of her time to her career or spending time with her best friend Mya, Grace hadn’t had a lot of luck in the love department. Ian was such a charismatic character that drew me in immediately. Sexy, dangerous, mysterious – but such a big-hearted romantic! I thought that their romance was a little on the fast side, but then again, this is a fast-paced novel full of tension that spurred on their relationship and protectiveness for one another.

I was quickly intrigued by the overall plot surrounding several disappearances and deaths, but I wished that the author would have developed the actual crimes and reasons behind the crimes a bit further. Written from Grace and Ian’s points of view, I wonder if one of the “bad guys” would have had a voice if it would’ve added to the suspense of the novel? 

Anyone that is a romantic suspense fan and loves strong, sexy alpha-males will love Aim. Ian is the epitome of a sexy, protective man that makes your heart melt. There is a wonderful blend of steamy scenes, suspense, sweet moments, and fearful moments. It was absolutely my pleasure to read and review this novel and participate in the release blitz and giveaway!

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/authorlpdover/playlist/1PoZHRAj2PCFzYWpR7iJ6X
Excerpt

My phone rang and I thought it’d be Bryce, but it wasn’t.
“What can I do for you, Chief?”
Colton Myers was the chief of police back in Wyoming. His
call wasn’t unusual, because they often called me and my brothers when there
were cases the local PD couldn’t solve. “I need your help,” he replied, his
voice shaking.
The cab driver pulled up to the airport entrance and I
passed him a wad of bills before getting out. “What’s going on? I’m about to
get on a flight to head home.”
“Good. I’ll drop these files off with Reed, so you can see
them when you get back.”
The din of the bustling city made it hard to hear him, but I
could tell he was distraught. “Files for what?”
He sighed heavily. “You know how there’ve been missing
hikers in Montana?”
“Yeah, I saw something about it before I left for New York.”
It wasn’t uncommon for tourists to sway from the hiking trails or test their
limits by doing stupid shit. Most of those people found themselves dead. I
liked to climb the cliffs, but I was good at it.
“We’re missing people here too,” Colton confessed.
“It happens every year. Why does this case shock you?” I’d
been gone for three weeks, so I hadn’t even paid attention to what was going on
in Wyoming.
He huffed angrily. “About three weeks ago, eight men
supposedly went missing in our mountains. Just this morning, I couldn’t get a
hold of Grace. Her boss also called me and said she never showed up at their
meeting last night. Her car is still at the hotel. It’s like she disappeared.”
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” I growled low.
Grace was his daughter and a good friend of mine. Hell, I’d
wanted to be more than that for quite some time. I only held back from pursuing
her out of respect for her father. She was one of the most beautiful women I’d
ever known.
“Please, Ian. I have to find her.”
Hurrying through the doors, impatience flooded through my
veins. “We’ll find her, if it’s the last thing I
do . . . I swear.” 

 

Also Available

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

 

Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency and Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management for dramatic rights. 

Author Links
Reviews

Book Review: Beautiful Animals

Beautiful Animals: A Novel,

by Lawrence Osborne

Publication: Hogarth; July 18, 2017

beautanimalsAbout the book: 

On a hike during a white-hot summer break on the Greek island of Hydra, Naomi and Samantha make a startling discovery: a man named Faoud, sleeping heavily, exposed to the elements, but still alive. Naomi, the daughter of a wealthy British art collector who has owned a villa in the exclusive hills for decades, convinces Sam, a younger American girl on vacation with her family, to help this stranger. As the two women learn more about the man, a migrant from Syria and a casualty of the crisis raging across the Aegean Sea, their own burgeoning friendship intensifies. But when their seemingly simple plan to help Faoud unravels all must face the horrific consequences they have set in motion.

In this brilliant psychological study of manipulation and greed, Lawrence Osborne explores the dark heart of friendship and shows just how often the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Beautiful Animals is a novel about a young woman named Naomi while vacationing with her father and stepmother at their summer home in Greece. Naomi is in her twenties, finished law school, but has already had an unsuccessful career. Naomi has a strained, yet somewhat affectionate relationship with her wealthy, art collector father and has a very cold and distant relationship with her stepmother. 

Samantha (Sam) is also a young woman vacationing on the Greek island of Hydra, a few years younger than Naomi and with a more close-knit family. Although also from a very wealthy family, Sam is much more naive and innocent than Naomi, thus beginning an interesting friendship. 

During a day excursion on Naomi’s family’s yacht, Naomi and Sam discover a man on the far end of the island, sleeping, and obviously injured. After some time they realize he is there illegally from Syria, but without him providing much detail regarding his circumstances. They decide they want to help him and the young women continue bringing him supplies, helping him with private places to stay, and eventually provide him with means to a great deal of wealth without truly considering the consequences. 

Thoughts & Reactions

Occasionally I will look at reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. prior to writing my review, simply because I wonder if a particular reaction is just me, or if others have felt the same. Beautiful Animals is one that I did look at other reviews prior to writing this, but it appears as if the things I enjoyed, most others didn’t, and vice versa. 

Let me start with the actual writing. Lawrence Osborne has crafted a beautiful novel. This is one of those novels that while reading, you feel as if you are floating on some perfect cloud of perfect imagery, description, and dialogue. This is masterful writing that requires thinking and feeling on your part as a reader. Moreover, I cannot imagine how anyone could read this book without developing overwhelming wanderlust. The descriptions of the landscape, food, alcohol, people, etc. have solidified my desire and need to visit Greece (and Italy).

Similar to an issue I had recently with another novel, there was not one character in this novel that I liked, or even respected for that matter. Naomi has lived an overly privileged life, with the exception of the death of her mother when Naomi was a teenager. Living in London with family homes in Italy and Greece, Naomi has been sheltered and spoiled beyond belief, although she was also extremely intelligent and independent. Her father Jimmie and her stepmother Phaine were basically narcissistic, alcoholic social climbers with even fewer redeeming qualities than Naomi. 

Sam and her family were wealthy New Yorkers, but much less pretentious than Naomi’s family. There were several references to Sam playing Scrabble with her father or going to the beach with her mother – things that would never have occurred with Naomi’s family. Remaining characters included the angry and diabolical maid Carissa, Faoed the illegal young man from Syria, and Jimmie’s friend and odd, secretive business partner Rockhold. All of them had equally unpleasant characteristics. 

Regarding the overall plot of the novel, I found it unique, engaging, and interesting. This wasn’t the best novel for me to take along on a weekend camping trip, but I did find myself captivated and unable to put it down. This wasn’t just a “rich girl helping a refugee story,”  but something much more complex about people in general. Why are people willing to risk so much for a stranger? Why do some people feel compelled to put their own family at risk for a cause? What has happened in a person’s life to make them completely numb to consequences of one’s behavior?

As always, I don’t want to give spoilers, but this novel is a shining example of a wealthy, spoiled woman that feels so entitled she is unable to look beyond herself. Naomi frequently plays the “I had a bad parent card” throughout the novel as a justification to herself and others, but it did nothing to inspire me to be more tolerant of her. 

Recommendations

Readers that enjoy higher-level writing that is thought-provoking (both good and bad), should enjoy and respect this novel. I loved the writing, as well as, the overall plot idea. However, if you need to make a connection with a particular character in order to enjoy a novel, Beautiful Animals is not the book for you. 

*Thanks to Blogging for Books for this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase Beautiful Animals on Amazon!

Learn more about Lawrence Osborne by visiting his web page.

Reviews

Book Review: The Party

The Party, by Elizabeth Day

Publication: Little, Brown & Company; August 15, 2017

the partyAbout the book:

A taut psychological tale of obsession and betrayal set over the course of a dinner party, THE PARTY tells the story of two married couples who, in a single evening, will come to question everything they thought they knew about each other, as the long-buried secret at the heart of their friendship comes to the surface, culminating in an explosive act of violence.

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben’s wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben’s dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she’ll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Martin and his wife Lucy are invited to Martin’s best friend’s (Ben) 40th birthday party. Ben and his wife Serena have an amazing, sprawling home they purchased from monks, with more than enough room to host Martin and Lucy for the night, however, they are not invited to stay over and have to book a sub-par hotel. 

Shifting between the 1980’s to the present, the novel outlines Martin’s childhood, his attendance at a boarding school where he met Ben, through college, into adulthood. However, early in the novel, Martin is in the police station being questioned about Ben’s 40th birthday party and what happened. 

Thoughts and Reactions

If you have read The Dinner, by Herman Koch, chances are you already know the overall makeup of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Day’s writing was impeccable, beautiful, and eloquent. However, I couldn’t get past the deja vu and the feeling that I had already read this story, just with different age groups and circumstances. 

There are several themes and issues in this novel including the power of family money, entitlement, struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, and so on. Very early in the novel, it is clear that there is something a little off about Martin. Although intelligent and creative, there’s this inner obsession that devours him, keeping him from leading a normal, healthy life. 

The time periods flip-flop throughout the novel between Martin and Ben growing into adulthood, the party, and after the party. During these shifts between time, it becomes evident that all of the involved parties are completely insane. Martin, his wife Lucy, Ben, his wife Serena, Ben’s family, and so on. There is a complete disconnect between these characters and any possible resemblance of moral compass. 

The plot and character development were satisfyingly complex, however, I struggled to connect, like, or even tolerate any of the characters in this novel. Each and every character was either self-absorbed, trying too hard to be different, or putting on a show of who they should be, rather than, who they really were. This was truly the most pretentious gathering of characters that I have ever seen, and I’m not sure it added to the novel in any way. 

This is another novel that is difficult to adequately review without spoilers, but I will leave you with these thoughts. The writing, once again, is impeccable. However, given that I was unable to connect with any of the characters and there were times the story seemed to drag, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this novel. Although, if by chance you are a fan of Herman Koch’s The Dinner, this novel will completely float your boat.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order The Party on Amazon