I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford's previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn' I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford's previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn't put it down til I finished the last page, just minutes before my husband's alarm woke him for work at 5am.
After enduring years of guilt, heartbreak, and regret, Charlotte Townsend has finally found the strength to leave her past behind. In a new town, with a new apartment, and a new name, Carly has enrolled in college and is looking towards her future, but three days into her new life she wakes to find a stranger in her bedroom. When the police answer Carly's call for help, they find no sign of the man and assure her it was likely a crime of opportunity. Though shaken by the intrusion Carly refuses to let the incident destroy her fledgling confidence...until then it happens again, and then again.
Darkest Place is an absorbing tale of psychological suspense. The tension builds slowly, gathering momentum until you realise you are holding your breath in anxious anticipation.
"She wants to scream. It’s building in her chest. Trapped there, scratching at her lungs as though her ribs are the bars holding it back. She hears breathing. Not her own. Deep and unhurried. It whispers across her face like a warm cloth. It turns her skin to ice. She lashes out. Hits, twists, kicks. She sees it in her mind, feels it in her muscles. But it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t move. Neither does he. She sees him now. A shape in the darkness. Above her, black and motionless. He is watching. She watches back. Fear roaring through her bones, pulse thumping in her ears. Her voice is wedged in her throat now and choking her. No. Something else is squeezing, pushing down, making blood pound in her face. Warm hand, hard fingers. She doesn’t want to see. Doesn’t want to feel. She shuts her eyes. Waits. "
Carly is a complex character, and given her emotionally fragility, I was never quite sure if I could trust her perception of events as the story progressed. The police certainly have their doubts about the reliability of her reports, and Carly's psychiatrist offers a rational opinion that could explain her experiences, but I was sympathetic to her distress.
"She caught sight of herself in the mirror. Hair a mess, face tear-stained. Dark-ringed, pale, wild-eyed. And she spun away, the image burned onto her retinas. Distraught, panicked, confused. She looked like Charlotte. No, worse than that. She looked crazy."
I have to admit I was ambivalent about the ending, though it works within the context of character and story, I didn't find it wholly satisfying, though I can't really reveal why I feel that way without the risk of spoilers. Nevertheless, there is closure and a sense of triumph and hope.
Darkest Place is Ford's fifth novel and I would say her best to date. Clever, thrilling and gripping. ...more
Summer Skin offers a 'girl meets boy' story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the co Summer Skin offers a 'girl meets boy' story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the construct to present a love story that honest, unique and relevant.
I found Jess to be a particular refreshing character for the YA/NA genre, though a mess of contradictions, she reflects a realistic young woman still figuring out that life and its challenges are rarely black and white.
Mitch challenges Jess in interesting ways, at first glance he is everything Jess despises - an arrogant rugby playing sexist pig, and she holds tightly to that initial assessment, which she often uses as an excuse and justification throughout their relationship for her own behaviour, even as she learns that Mitch is a much more than that. They both struggle to define their relationship in terms of both their own identities, and each other.
There is real depth to this novel beneath the humor, mischief, drunken revelry, dress up balls, and instagram poses that exemplifies campus life. The author explores modern day feminism and how its meaning varies between individuals, illustrated by the differing attitudes and opinions of Jess and each of her close friends, Farren, Leanne and Allie. She captures the conflict many young women face when negotiating issues of lust, sex and intimacy in the age of the hook-up culture. Eagar also touches on several relevant issues affecting today's young adults including the use, and abuse of social media, the way in which porn distorts attitudes to sex, the risks of speeding and drink driving, but she never preaches.
Aimed squarely at a mature young adult/new adult audience, Summer Skin is smart, funny, sexy and thought-provoking. There is nothing typical about it....more
Hold On To Me is another sweet and sexy contemporary romance in Victoria Purman's 'Boys of Summer' series.
Set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Austr Hold On To Me is another sweet and sexy contemporary romance in Victoria Purman's 'Boys of Summer' series.
Set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, this novel features Luca Morelli, the younger brother of Anna from Our Kind of Love, and local boutique owner Stella Ryan. The pair meet when 'Style by Stella' is destroyed by fire and Anna insists her brother, a contractor, helps her rebuild.
The chemistry between the characters is obvious from their first meeting, despite the age difference (Luca is 6 years younger than her). At 29 and still establishing his new business, Luca hasn't given much thought to settling down but he is intrigued by the feisty, if prickly, Stella. While he is one of the least complicated heroes of this series, Stella is perhaps the most complex heroine. Fiercely independent, a tumultuous childhood and a devastating betrayal has ensured she trusts no one. She is certain she isn't interested in any type of relationship, but Luca slowly wears down her defenses, and Stella is eventually forced to confront her demons.
The Grass is Greener is Loretta Hill's fifth contemporary novel and like the last, The Maxwell Sisters, this novel is also set largely among the viney The Grass is Greener is Loretta Hill's fifth contemporary novel and like the last, The Maxwell Sisters, this novel is also set largely among the vineyards in the fertile southern region of Western Australia.
"The long and short of it is....Bronwyn needed a sabbatical from the law, so she left town to work on my family's vineyard. I wanted to get back into law so I marched in and took her job....It was a great plan from both of our perspectives and it would have been perfect-..."
Succumbing to family obligation has left best friends, Bronwyn Eddings and Claudia Franklin, miserable. Despite her pedigree, Bronwyn detests practicing law in Perth and dreams of another life, while Claudia resents having been compelled to abandon her own fledgling law career to work at her family's failing winery. The solution seems simple, they'll swap places and both get exactly what they want.
Of course it's not nearly that easy and Hill introduces plenty of conflict for both of her protagonists to work through, developing circumstances that engender mild tension and drama. Bronwyn's high profile mother is furious when her daughter abandons her career without a backward glance and is insistent that Bronwyn return to the fold. The Franklin family, still struggling with the aftermath of family tragedy, are hurt by Claudia's leaving and resistant to the idea of Bronwyn taking her place. Additionally Claudia and Bronwyn both find themselves caught up in a strange situation involving a pregnant Mastiff, a possible dog fighting ring and a local crime heavyweight. Romance also features heavily in The Grass is Greener. The return of Jack Franklin, Claudia's eldest brother, to the vineyard after a five year absence reignites Bronwyn's long held desire for him. Meanwhile Claudia finds the dark good looks and intelligence of her immediate boss, Sebastian Rowlands irresistible, despite his breathtaking arrogance.
"The truth is. it was never about swapping our lives exactly. It was always about making the most of our own.... So...what you’re really saying is, the grass is greener on the other side, but only if you water it."
The Grass Is Greener is a warm and engaging story about friendship, autonomy, family and love from Loretta Hill. Enjoy it on a summer's afternoon with a glass of Western Australian wine....more
'Where are the damn tissues?' is what I wrote when I finished Numbered by writing team Ros Baxter and Amy Andrews.
When twenty nine year old Poppy Dev 'Where are the damn tissues?' is what I wrote when I finished Numbered by writing team Ros Baxter and Amy Andrews.
When twenty nine year old Poppy Devine finds a lump in her breast she decides to get a jump on her bucket list, and surprises herself by crossing off three items in one day - Number one: Jump out of a plane, Number ten: Have sex with a stranger, Number twelve: Eat a Mexican meal.
Numbered is an emotive story, the tragedy of Poppy's terminal diagnosis can't fail to tug at the heart strings, but it is ultimately a celebration of life as Poppy with the support of her best friend Julia and no-longer-a-stranger 'Ten' (aka Quentin Carmody) endeavour to fulfil her bucket list before her time runs out.
Most of the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Julia and Quentin. Julia is both furious and devastated when her best friend is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and is determined that Poppy will beat it. In the meantime she will do everything she can to ensure Poppy has whatever she wants, she just doesn't think that Poppy is making a wise choice in keeping Mr-Rock-God-Surfer-Boy-Football-Legend around. Twenty two year old musician/short order cook Quentin Carmody has never had a relationship that has lasted longer than a few weeks but he's found something special with Poppy, both in and out of bed, and he's determined not to let her go.
Numbered is as much a story about they way in which Julia and Quentin cope with Poppy's inevitable death, more perhaps, than it is about Poppy's courageous last days. I loved Julia's feisty spirit and take no prisoners attitude, and the way in which Quentin sees past Poppy's illness. Both strong personalities, Julia and Quentin want what is best for Poppy but they don't always agree on what that is or how to make it happen. The bickering between them is often hilarious, providing much needed light relief, but is clearly edged with the pain and grief they feel.
Beautifully written with heart and humour, Numbered is a poignant yet life affirming novel about friendship, love, hope, grief and redemption, a wonderful read that will likely leave you smiling through your tears. ...more
An obituary in his morning newspaper has Cliff Hardy, PI, reminiscing about a decades old case that still haunts him, in Peter Corris's, That Empty Fe An obituary in his morning newspaper has Cliff Hardy, PI, reminiscing about a decades old case that still haunts him, in Peter Corris's, That Empty Feeling.
A long lost heir, a federal undercover cop, and an oil scam tangle to create a mystery that pits Hardy against an old enemy, a greedy wife and corporate corruption. There is betrayal, abduction, murder, and a surprising romance. Hardy gathers evidence, chases down hunches, trades information, and occasionally explodes into violence.
The spare prose and dispiriting tone reflects the noir genre. The pace is unhurried and the reading easy.
That Empty Feeling is the 41st book to feature the iconic character of Cliff Hardy, several of which I have read over the years, and which I always enjoy....more
Adrian McKinty gives DI Sean Duffy another 'locked room' mystery to solve in his fifth Irish police procedural novel, Rain Dogs.
"No note, a missing no Adrian McKinty gives DI Sean Duffy another 'locked room' mystery to solve in his fifth Irish police procedural novel, Rain Dogs.
"No note, a missing notebook, a shoe on the wrong foot."
When the shattered body of an English journalist is found in the locked grounds of Carrickfergus Castle, it is assumed the young woman committed suicide but something is not quite right and Duffy can't leave it alone.
With the patient assistance of Lawson and McCrabban the Irish detective unravels a shocking conspiracy with roots in the highest echelons of power spanning three countries. It's an interesting puzzle solved by Duffy's intuition, dogged investigative skills, and disregard for authority, which I enjoyed trying to figure out. Lily Bigelowe's death also pits Duffy against an old friend leading to a life and death confrontation.
Set against the Belfast's "Troubles' and referencing real events, this story, as are McKinty's others, is well grounded in time and place. Riot police are a necessity at every public event and as a matter of course Duffy checks under his car every day for a bomb. The wintry weather underscores the bleak social and political atmosphere, and Duffy's dismal personal life.
Madness, rain, Ireland, it all fits."
I'm enjoying this gritty series, entertained by Duffy's dark wit and the strong, interesting plots. I'm looking forward to the next.
Desert Flame is a contemporary novel of romantic suspense set in rural Australia from author Janine Grey.
Eliza Mayberry is stunned when she learns her Desert Flame is a contemporary novel of romantic suspense set in rural Australia from author Janine Grey.
Eliza Mayberry is stunned when she learns her late father's company is near bankrupt. With little left of her former life of privilege except the company name, 'KinSearchers' Eliza agrees to assist the firms single remaining client who wants Eliza to meet his long lost great nephew. Eliza's search leads her to an opal claim near Lightning Ridge in outback New South Wales where she meets the disturbingly attractive Fingal McLeod, who couldn't be less interested in reuniting with the family who abandoned he and his mother.
Fin's focus is on his search for the rare Dark Flame opal to provide security for his ailing mother but Eliza proves to be a distraction he can't ignore. The relationship between Eliza and Fin is initially based on mutual attraction and lust, which soon develops into admiration and respect as they get to know one another. The development is perhaps a little rushed but I did enjoy the romance. There are several intimate encounters in the novel and I thought they were well written, offering something more interesting (especially that outdoor shower spectacle) than the standard soft focus bedroom scenes.
Several threads of mild suspense run through Desert Flame. The first involves the suspicious behaviour of Fin's mother's long term companion, the second a series of mishaps at the mine, and the third involves the fate of Logan McLeod, Fin's deadbeat dad. Grey balances the multiple story arcs well with the burgeoning relationship, creating a novel with an engaging mix of drama, tension and romance.
Humour springs from the quirky townspeople of Helton, such as cheeky Mick and the brassy barmaid. I thought Grey's vivid descriptions of the mine and its surrounds evoked the heat, dust and isolation of the region. The only real flaw perhaps was the pacing which I felt was a little slow at times.
A quick and pleasant read, I enjoyed Desert Flame and I'd recommend it to fans of the genre....more
"'A ticket to Australia,' she said faintly.'Wonderful Gran, Louis, thank you so much.' She forced her mouth to curve upwards into something resembling "'A ticket to Australia,' she said faintly.'Wonderful Gran, Louis, thank you so much.' She forced her mouth to curve upwards into something resembling a smile.'This is great. Just great.'"
When Beth Poole's grandmother gifts her an airline ticket from Yorkshire to Western Australia for her birthday she's reluctant to vacation in a country in which every living thing seems to be lethal. Nevertheless, Beth books a months stay in a holiday cottage in George Creek looking forward to a few weeks of peace and quiet.
Loosely linked to Georgina Penney's previous novels, Irrepressible You and Fly In Fly Out, Summer Harvest is a lovely contemporary romance novel set in the the south west winery region of Australia.
The focus of the story is on the relationship that develops between Beth and Clayton Hardy, whose family owns the winery next door to where Beth is staying. They enjoy an intimate holiday fling which becomes complicated when Beth reveals a secret she has been keeping. An additional subplot involves a fractious relationship between Clayton's father, Rob Hardy and new winery hire, Gwen Stone, who have a history neither are willing to disclose. Both plotlines also explore the themes of loss, grief and moving on.
The characters are well drawn. Beth is a strong character, having survived the loss of her family and the desertion of her husband, as well as breast cancer, and Clayton is an appealing lead. I enjoyed the supporting characters including Beth's outspoken grandmother Violet and Angie, the matriarch of the Evangaline Rest Winery, chatty Laura and her cheeky brother Jeff. Fred, the perpetually stoned farm hand, is good for a laugh too.
Penney's writing style is warm, I enjoyed the very Aussie humour and the witty dialogue. The emotions are believable, the intimate scenes between Beth and Clay are well written and the story is well paced.
Summer Harvest is an engaging read and the ending satisfied the romantic in me.