I became a fan of L.H Conway’s after I read Painted Faces. Conway has a gift for writing characters who resonate with the reader. She works her magic...moreI became a fan of L.H Conway’s after I read Painted Faces. Conway has a gift for writing characters who resonate with the reader. She works her magic with Six of Hearts-a beautiful sexy adventure that offers readers an engaging and unique love story between a shy young woman and a flamboyant illusionist. Love and laughter balance well with an intriguing mystery that builds a remarkable tale of loss and revenge. A well defined cast of secondary characters adds to the depth and appeal of the story. One of my favorite reads for 2014.(less)
Favorite Quote: “Oh come on, I’ve seen you two together. It’s like watching a nature documentary on scientists trying to get the two most socially awkward people in the world to mate.”
Deacon Whitney, software mogul and billionaire, hires a group of professionals to come to his private island and renovate his family estate. Known as the Crane’s Nest, this family jewel, nestled along the New England coast, has been the focal point of murder and mystery since the death of Catherine Crane; supposedly at her husband’s hands.
Nina Lindon is hired by Deacon to landscape the estate and jumps at the chance to use this job to jump start her business. A victim of a malicious co worker, Nina has had to start again from scratch and this is her chance to get herself back on her feet.
Upon meeting, Deacon and Nina gravitate to one another; he sees a woman not after his money and she sees a man who will be careful with her bruised heart. Though, they may not get a chance explore their attraction when it becomes apparent that the house and it’s ghostly inhabitants have something against true love. Unless Deacon and his makeshift scooby gang can figure out how to lay these angry spirits to rest, these star crossed lovers may learn the true meaning of “till death do us part…”
I’ve always enjoyed Molly Harper’s writing. From her contemporaries to her paranormals, Ms Harper writes rich snark filled hilarious stories filled with strong females and slightly strange but smexy men. Better Homes and Hauntings is a delightful paranormal romance filled with tongue in cheek humor, endearing characters, and some crazy shenanigans. Her characters are hysterical and provide much eye rolling and snorts of laughter as you slip smoothly into their lives. The storyline is a wonderful mix of love and suspense with an easy flow and an enjoyable conversational writing style.
A naturally shy, unassuming, and slightly geeky woman, Nina has a well hidden streak of wickedly funny sarcasm and one liners. She zings them out of nowhere, startling giggles and outright snorts from the reader. A landscaper by trade, she was taken advantage of by her former partner who became vindictive when she left to start her own business. He systematically destroyed her reputation and her life. Down, but not out, Nina is struggling to recoup what she lost and try to rebuild her life and business again one job at a time.
Deacon is the perfect geeky beta. Smart, funny, and handsome; he has a boyish charm to him that appeals to NIna’s gentler nature.An action figure fan to boot- he delights, intrigues, and frustrates Nina to distraction. I found his social awkwardness utterly delightful; especially in his attempts to “woe” Nina.
Deacon snapped her out of her reverie. “You’re actually doing me a favor, you know.”
“If the whispering among my staff is any indication, this dance is probably serving as the office pool breaker for “Is Deacon asexual?’”
“That’s kind of insulting. How is that helping you?”
He shrugged. “I put fifty dollars down on ‘not asexual’”
“They let you bet?”
“Well, I bet under Vi’s name.”
The slow evolution of his and Nina’’s relationship is a fun journey filled with humor, snarkiness, and lots of steamy chemistry.
The supporting characters are just as eccentric and fun as our main protagonists. From Deacon’s flighty cousin who is determined to out the Whitney family secrets once and for all to Cindy, the head of Cleaning service. They have some wonderful banter between them.
“Sweetheart, I’m going to insist that you ride that man like a pony. [...] For the good of all mankind, technological advancement, and America’s place in the world wide economy. Think of the gadgetry he could come up with if he had a little stress relief.”
“You are all class, my friend.”
Cindy and Jeff (Deacon’s bff) have some past history which leaves you in stitches as they bicker and trade insults on their way to romance.
The conclusion of the conflict and sub plot was a action packed and engaging though I had figured it out fairly early in the story. The mystery of Deacon’s ancestors is finally laid to rest and the romance(s) flourish; delivering to us our happily ever after but with a few twists that adds to the overall enjoyment.
If you’re looking for a funny, sexy paranormal romance with a dash of mystery and suspense that will leave thoroughly entertained then I highly recommend picking up Molly Harper’s newest stand alone, Better Homes and Hauntings.
Twenty years ago, four year old Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his home in the middle of a night and never seen again. Though the suspected kidnapper was eventually caught and sentenced for his crime, he has maintained his innocence from the beginning and nothing could tie him to the crime but a ransom note.
Griffin (Griff) Hadley, an investigative journalist, has gained permission to write the story of Brian’s kidnapping, hoping to learn some new information and revive interest in the decades old case. While the patriarch of the family has given Griff the go ahead, other family members and the family lawyer will do anything to stop the book from being written.
As Griff sifts through the layers of deception to discover the truth of what happened that fateful night, it’s his own memories that may provide the most shocking story of all.
Stranger by the Shore is a romantic suspense mystery set amongst the rich and reclusive. Lanyon pens a tale of jealousy, deception, and betrayal that centers around a decades old kidnapping. With the faint wave towards the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping case, Lanyon sets the scene, using descriptive phasing and intense characters, to introduce us to the conflict right along with our protagonist; Griff Hadley. Steady pacing and a slow reveal keeps readers wondering what exactly happened to young Brian Arlington…and why.
Griff Hadley, a journalist for a small town paper, is shocked when his request to write a book on the Arlington family’s greatest tragedy is granted. Quiet and reflective, this is a challenge he has wanted for a long time. His first introduction to the opulence of the Arlington estate is one of wonder and distaste. He sees, from the antique crammed cottage he’s staying in to the grown children still living there, that the family is far removed from the real world. Having been raised by a fearful & frugal single mother, this family is an anomaly to him. As the story progresses, his passive interference opens up long buried wounds and grievances that move the family towards the answers they seek.
A strong cast of characters brings a rich dynamic to the story from the ever hopeful grandfather, Jarrett Arlington to the antagonistic overprotective family lawyer, Pierce Mathers. Lanyon presents each character whose facade we learn hides a multitude of sins. No one is what they seem and everyone has a secret to protect. Long times readers of Lanyon will recognize the characterization used.
The romance wasn’t a strong voice in the story and that disappointed. The chemistry was almost non existent. It read awkward and the characters’ connection seemed more a matter of convenience than actual attraction. The interactions between the lovers are very sexual but it never crossed over into what I might call a potential relationship. Most of the personal information that was learned by either party seemed to come from a third party source.
The mystery moves slowly, revealing little bits here and there. A heavy hand in foreshadowing almost guarantees the reader will figure out the main points rather early on but the journey towards the reasons why are finessed out in an engaging manner. It’s a comfortable book, reminiscent of old Lanyon offerings. I was put out by one scene that is used as the catalyst for solving the mystery and pushing the other plot lines to the finish line. It was trite and took the easy way out of an otherwise interesting dilemma.
Regardless of my misgivings towards certain aspects, Josh Lanyon’s latest offering offers a nice respite from the general day’s hassles and leaves readers with the coveted happy ending.
Favorite Quote: “…in this perfect moment, there is always fear.”
Emma Searfoss, a 22 year old engineer designer, has moved clear across the country to get away from her stepfather. Emotionally and physically abused by him since childhood, her victimization was made worse by her mother and two brothers allowing it to happen and not intervening. Blunt and in need of some anger management classes, Emma moves into a new apartment only to wake up the next day and find a strange man has made himself at home there.
David Calgaro is a 26 year old carpenter who, like Emma, grew up in abusive home. Contracted to replace the kitchen in her new apartment, his lack of boundaries infuriates then intrigues Emma. This outgoing and charming young man grounds her and soon their friendship blossoms into something more.
Emma feels safe with David, a first for her, and she falls hard for this mysterious man. But David has secrets. Dark secrets that involve his previous girlfriends. Emma knows David is hiding something from her but her attraction to him is strong and when he asks for the impossible…she must decide how far she is willing go for love.
How far would you go to prove your love to someone?
Would you lie for them?
Would you steal for them?
Would you kill for them?
Would you die for them?
Claire Wallis asks these questions and more in her debut NA novel, Push. A psychological romantic thriller that addresses the long term emotional and mental damage caused by childhood abuse and the lengths some will go to find peace and happiness. I use the term romance with hesitation because I don’t consider this a romance per say. It’s more of a love story steeped in tragedy and deception. Wallis uses an interesting set up in that the story opens at the end, essentially telling us what has happened. She then takes us back to the beginning to when Emma and David first met and begins to explain to us, in Emma’s voice, how she and David arrived at their point of no return.
Steady pacing peels back the layers of Emma and David, introducing us to two seemingly normal individuals whose similar backgrounds guide and attract them to one another. Humorous scenes, dry witty dialogue, and some very sexy sensual love scenes keeps the reader engaged as Wallis builds what looks to be a typical NA romance. As the book progresses, the tone changes. It’s a gradual feeling that you don’t realize is there until you feel the hair on the back of your neck raise. The very things that engaged you in the beginning take on a more sinister air. They mock you. Wallis digs deep into our protagonists’, giving us hints at the darkness that exists in both of them. Scenes from David and Emma’s childhoods only serve to further explain their idiosyncrasies while POVs from David’s ex girlfriends opens our eyes to something more insidious.
I have to say this book leaves you reeling once you reach the end. Emotions are jumbled as you try to figure out what you missed and when it all began to change. Did it actually change or was it this way all along but you just refused to see it? It makes you question your own judgement. Wallis does a fabulous job of twisting the plotlines; building upon a seemingly strong foundation, only to show at the end just how easily you can lie to others…and yourself.
“I know that we are going to be alright. I know because each of us consists of half lunacy and half absurdity-and neither of us is fit to be with anyone else.”
David and Emma are energetic protagonists. Wallis paints a vivid three dimensional picture of them; highlighting their flaws as well as their attributes in a manner that only makes them more appealing. Both come off strong, intelligent, and loyal. There is an interesting contrast shown here between Emma and David. Both are damaged but Emma seems to be better adjusted than David. She is able to express herself while David manipulates the truth and only comes clean when forced into a corner. Their relationship progresses fast; you can see an almost manic quality in the time they spend together. It’s as if they are clinging by the tips of their fingers, struggling to hold on. Their time together changes them. You begin to see them giving up some unhealthy habits and becoming more honest with each other.
“I admit that I am almost relieved to hear that his family is nearly as messed up as mine. I feel as if he’s less likely to judge me because of it, and that makes me happy”
Wallis doesn’t shy away from the sexual aspect as she allows Emma and David to enjoy a full and often consummated affair. Their chemistry is a palpable force felt throughout the book that only gains strength the longer they are together. I liked seeing that Emma isn’t slut shamed or forced to view her sexuality as a bad thing because of her past. This is usually a side effect in NAs when either protagonists has an abusive childhood. She initiates her and David’s first sexual encounter and it is enjoyed by both with no negative consequences.
“The phoenix is stretched out over my lap, rising and falling as he breathes.”
Though you think you know the ending…you don’t. Everything has changed and Wallis gives us just enough so we aren’t sure of anything anymore and leaves us in limbo; waiting for the next book. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I do wish we could have gotten more of David’s POV in the present. As it was, I could only take most of what he said and did at face value since it was told to us by Emma. I am hoping that book two, title and release date to be announced, will be told in David’s voice and I can gain a better understanding of where his head was during all of this.
Push was a surprisingly fresh and unique treat to read. I recommend to all new adult aficionados who is looking for something new in this oft repetitive genre. I for one will be keeping a close eye on Claire Wallis in the future.
Favorite Quote: “I just want to get through every fucking day, as well as I can, until I finally die like everyone I care about did.”
Eve Blackthorn’s world has always been filled with vampires. Saved by a vampire as a teenager, Eve had no way of knowing the impact he would have on her future. She eventually falls in love with him and they marry, much to the dismay of some. Days after their wedding, her entire family is massacred and her husband, Robert, is convicted and executed for the crime. Now Eve works in a brothel, servicing the men who took her husband from her. She has reached a point where she no longer cares what happens to her. She is disconnected and broken. Everyone she has ever loved is gone; ripped brutally away from her without a single chance of saying goodbye. Left to her own devices in a world that wants her dead, she knows the vampire government had something to do with her family’s murder and her husband’s death but she has no way to prove it.
Eve pulls herself out of her downward spiral with the help of some unusual allies. As the truth begins to reveal itself, the secrets the vampire government are hiding points directly towards Eve. She learns that she has been merely made a pawn in a plot that threatens everyone. A plot that forces her to ally with the very monsters who ripped her world out from under her. As the clock ticks down, Eve will use whoever and whatever she can to avenge her husband, her family, and take back her life.
Absolution, book one in McGurk’s Vampire Alliance, is a noir urban fantasy with nail biting suspense, delicious betrayal, dangerous antagonists, and an underlying theme of heartbreak and sorrow. McGurk gives us a new look at vampires that is both appealing and appalling. Lush world building combined with highly complex and multi layered characters tells a dark story driven by the emotions of those who live it. The first half is slow to develop as the narratives alternate between Eve’s present and her husband’s past. Though it was a little rough acclimating between the two voices and seemingly unrelated storylines, as we continue reading, the two stories merge and you begin to see the big picture. From there, the story races to unfold along an illuminated path-only showing so much as you walk a twisted path with our protagonist. The smooth writing and descriptive detailing drew me in and I found myself becoming heavily vested in the characters outcomes. Ms. McGurk takes her time in developing her characters and their connections to the world and one another.
No person in here is exempt from judgement and everyone has an end game. Good and evil are merely words. The degrees of separation are fine threads whose ties become more visible as the story progresses. The past controls the future and this is amply displayed as we are given an intimate view of vampire politics and how the decisions Eve’s husband made in the past affected his future.
Visions of David and Goliath come to mind as we watch Eve face adversaries galore in her quest to discover who set in motion the events that sent her down a path of no redemption. Misdirection is your best friend as McGurk unveils a Machiavellian plotline that leaves readers and Eve reeling from the possible implications.
The romance of the story reveals slowly like a faint ray of hope. Lightweight and still developing, it packs very emotional punch. We see many different emotional entanglements- family, friendship, and love. Eve’s trust has been completely shattered and she struggles to kept everyone at bay. They all run parallel to the main storyline and are used to reinforce the main conflict.
As I raced towards the ending, I felt like I was on a roller coaster, my stomach pitching and rolling as each new clue and dramatic scene unfolded. I like how everything isn’t explained away and some decisions made, though I didn’t agree with them all, were the only choices that could be made. The ending is a climactic finale that satisfies the immediate storyline but leaves a cliffhanger that guarantees you need to pick up book two, Allegiance, which is available now.
If you looking for a unique character driven Urban Fantasy that delivers a fresh outlook on vampires, then I recommend getting Angela Louise McGurk’s Absolution.
It took me three days to read this book. It wasn't that it was bad-though there were some editing errors that surprised me-it was the the mildness of...moreIt took me three days to read this book. It wasn't that it was bad-though there were some editing errors that surprised me-it was the the mildness of the overall plot. It took forever to work it out and we spent more time listening to Eve ruminate about it all then actual investigating. Suspects were cleared faster then normal and the ending comes at you in an anti climate manner. All in all, it was all rather boring.
Roarke & Eve were great as usual. I enjoy seeing both of them more comfortable in their marriage. I wish we could have had more interaction with the rest of the gang, though. There was no real excitement or anticipation that I have come to expect in this series. Eve is calm, nice, and seems to have lost that edginess that made her such an engaging protagonist. (less)
Favorite Quote: “…I hate what I am at time, but at least I accept myself enough to realize I can’t lie my way through life…”
David Lauriston, a junior advocate in Edinburgh, finds himself under suspicion for radical sympathies when he defends a group of weavers accused of treason. His life becomes even more complicated when a chance sexual encounter with a mysterious man leaves David both confused and wanting more.
Lord Murdo Balfour is a worldly cynical man who believes life should be enjoyed to the fullest and nothing is off limits. Though he never indulges in repeat performances with the same man, his one night with David has left him feeling raw, unsatisfied, and hungering for more.
As David seeks to uncover the spy who betrayed the weavers to the local magistrate, he fears his mysterious lover has a more sinister reason for being in town. And the truth could do more then just break his heart…it could get him killed.
Provoked is a historical m/m romance set in 1800 Edinburgh, Scotland, based on the Scottish Insurrection. The first in a series, Chambers effectively builds an uneasy romance between two completely different men whose loyalties and morals that separate them are as effective as a yawning chasm. A suspenseful mystery only reinforces their differences when the traitor David seek, leads him straight to Lord Balfour.
This is my first time reading Joanna Chambers and I was impressed with the tone and flow of this story. With a length of only 216 pages and told from David’s point of view, it is presented with the intention that this is but a single chapter in David’s life so there is no resolution to either the romance or the main conflict.
Our protagonists are both well developed as Chambers takes the time to build them; highlighting their background and differences. David is ashamed of his feelings for men and views it as failing on his part. Caught by his father in a compromising situation, he finds himself balancing on an ethical precipice, caught between his desire for men and his knowledge that society views this desire as an abomination. His increasing guilt leads him to try and ignore his and Balfour’s growing attraction for one another even as he finds himself unable to resist that attraction.
Balfour, a self proclaimed hedonist, doesn’t see his love of men as a sin, yet he also doesn’t see himself falling in love with one. It is merely an itch to be scratched. Yet, from his first meeting with David, he feels different. He is angry that he cannot simply push his feelings for David aside. He wants more and we see hints of jealousy and hurt in his dialogue with David as David continues to refuse to play the way Belfour wants.
It’s unusual to see many female characters in an M/M romance yet in here they aren’t only present but given viable places in the storyline. Both Balfour and David have interactions with two particular women whose interests in the men only add even more conflict. I am intrigued by the roles they will play in the future of these two men’s lives. I also enjoyed the interactions we have with David’s family. His father, though disappointed in him, still loves him dearly and wants what every parents wants. For their children to be healthy, happy, and safe.
As I stated above, this is but a merely chapter in David’s life so there is no resolution to the storylines. We aren’t left with a cliffhanger but more of a to be continued… I am interested in seeing where Ms. Chambers takes this series and looking forward to the next installment.
Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper in training and P.I. extraordinaire (well, that’s what her t-shirt says) is back and finding more trouble than ever. Book six brings readers chills, thrills, and laughter as Charley finds herself engaged to the son of Satan, trying to win back a lost soul in a poker game, and avoiding some bad men who want her to stop a witness from testifying…or else. Add in a guilt ridden father going through a midlife crisis, a young boy whose new ability to see the recently departed has him freaking out, and a dead man who seems to think he can live rent free in her apartment and Charley wonders if it’s even worth getting dressed in the morning.
"Clothes? Sufficient Keys? found ’em Coffee cup? full Sanity? sanity?"
I’ve been a huge fan of Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series since the first release. A wickedly funny, sexy, action-packed roller coaster ride that will have you snorting with laughter as you follow Charley and her over qualified, under-paid secretary/bff Cookie into the exciting world of private investigation, office supply theft, and ghosts in need of some anger management classes. A strong character driven series, this urban fantasy takes you on a crazy adventure teeming with strong emotional storylines, multiple subplots, insane characters, and witty dialogue.
Our heroine, Charley Davidson is a Grim Reaper, but a very special one that has her watching her back a lot more often these days. Throughout the series we have seen her grow mentally and emotionally as she has come to accept her paranormal gifts and world altering destiny. Having spent her entire life solving mysteries; first for her father and uncle and now for herself as a licensed private investigator; she uses her powers for good in order to fuel her overly developed sense of justice. Often at the expense of her own well being. This becomes a major issue in this installment as the repercussions aren’t pretty but does offer some hints towards things to come.
However, even with the added addition of danger, being a Grim Reaper has made her life far more interesting. Especially in the form of one sexy hot luscious hunk of eye candy named Reyes Farrow. Claiming to be the son of Satan and originally created to kill her, Reyes instead fell in love with Charley and used his powers to circumvent Heaven and Hell in order to be with her. Fate, not taking kindly to being manipulated, punished Reyes for his interference and his life was a series of heartbreaking lessons until Charley and he reunite. Now together, Reyes took the next logical step in their relationship by asking Charley to marry him at the end of book five. Charley, being Charley is making him wait for the answer.
“It’s a simple yes/no question, Dutch.”
Whaaaaa? Woman is cray cray. I’d snatch that man up faster than the last Cadbury Egg at a 75% off candy sale.
From the first page, Jones races out of the gate and frantically begins to set up the storyline and various subplots. Charley has a lot on her plate and it shows in here. Despite Reyes repeated requests, Charley will not let his past stay buried and is determined to discover more clues to his childhood. She gets some much needed help from an FBI friend who hands her an old kidnapping case that is connected to Reyes. While scooping out the supposed kidnappers, Charlie finds herself attacked by a very angry ghost looking for her child and a nekkid ghost who insists on riding shotgun. Mobsters, police captains, and drug dealers all seem to have it in for her. The flow is fast and helped along by Charley’s predictable wit and the insane situations she finds herself in.
We get a hit and run style of interactions with the main characters as Jones’ shows us what they have been up to. Jones’ does a fabulous job of advancing and blending the characters’ own personal storylines in to the main storyline. Cookie, Angel, Ubie, and Garrett all get plenty of scene time that gives us clues to future events. Lots of giggles and flat out fun accompanies these eccentric people.
“You’ve set the bar too high now. No one will live up to—” She gestured to all of him. “—all of that. You’ve ruined my daughter.”
It’s at the 60 percent mark that the book falters for me. This book is far more loosely structured than the previous five books. An overabundance of plotlines and subplots creates confusion and I found myself having to flip back and forth to see if I missed some clues. There are at least fifteen different story threads running through here. That is lot for one book to contain. Because of this, some subplots get hatched and then immediately resolved while others get minimal advancement because there is just too much going on to receive the attention they deserve.
There was also a scene (I am not going to spoil) that made no sense. I even discussed it with some other bloggers who had also read this book and no one seemed to have any idea what happened, why it happened, or what the objective was. Quite a few subplots seemed only to exist in order to provide Charley with a platform to be silly. Ms. Jones has mentioned before that she has no real endgame in sight for the series and it’s apparent.
I also had a few issues with Charley herself. She had slowly but reassuringly grown in the past few books but in here she stagnates. In fact, it seems as if she actually devolves. She is still in the dark about her Grim Reaper origins and responsibilities. So much so that even other characters in the books are questioning why she isn’t learning or attempting to learn more. I don’t mind a character getting criticized if it results in a change. We don’t see that in here so I’m curious to why it was even addressed . Also, too many one liners peppered her speech in this go around. I felt at times as if I was reading about a teenager rather than a grown woman.
Regardless of my issues, I still enjoyed the story overall and absolutely adore the characters who live in this world. Charley continues to engage the reader with her madcap adventures. The last chapter picks up dramatically- action and suspense wise- as we are once again tossed into a few eye raising scenes, left with a lot of questions, and are given an ending that guarantees we will all be chomping at the bit for book seven, Seventh Grave and No Body, which luckily is set to release October 21, 2014.
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes you have to go away. Then you can come back new.”
When Mary Crow promised her longtime lover that she would no longer handle criminal cases, she never expected a murder to land at her front door. When the daughter of a prominent politician is found fatally victimized and her boss is charged with the crime, Mary is placed in the intractable position of proving his defense even though she knows it could cause her to lose everything that matters to her.
As Mary divulges deeper into the crime, she finds herself embroiled in a centuries old mystery that stems from a similar murder that occurred 1958 and a ghost story that still haunts the Appalachians surrounding her town. She is also having to deal with personal issues when her lover and his nine year old daughter return from a court ordered visit with her grandparents changed and suddenly acting cold towards her. With the help of the local sheriff’s fiancée and friends from her time as a prosecutor, Mary will learn the hard way that blood is thicker than water and often times the ghosts of our pasts are never truly laid to rest.
Music Of Ghosts is the fifth installment in Sallie Bissell’s Mary Crow series. A suspenseful mystery series whose protagonist, Mary Crow, is a Cherokee lawyer whose penchant for trouble follows her around like a shadow. Even if you haven’t read the first four, the story line’s crisp clean lines and smooth telling allows for instant comprehension and immersion. Heavily character driven with a multitude of twists and turns, lore inspired mystery and suspense builds slowly, intertwining with an on going deeply rooted romance that is not without its own drama.
Set in a small mountain town of North Carolina’s Pisgah County, legend and lore winds together to give us a well written personal glimpse into small town life and the reservations and prejudices that often come with it. I enjoyed meeting Mary and seeing the effort she has made to conform her life to the expectations of her lover, Jonathan Walkingstick. An intelligent and admirable woman, she has sacrificed so much of herself to be with him. A decision she didn’t make lightly nor does she regret. My heart broke for her when Jonathan places his own needs and wants above hers and isn’t there when she needs him most of all.
The secondary characters round out the storyline and further encourage the appeal of this story. Offering up a smattering of humor and eccentricity, I found myself engaging with them all. Everyone has a place in the story, be it large or small, and isn’t used as unnecessary filler. Bissell cleverly uses this small town appeal and eccentricity to keep us on our toes as we are given various clues to both mysteries while keeping our villain hidden right before our eyes.
The ending is an action packed finale that answers all our questions and wraps up the mysteries nice and neat. Mary’s personal life doesn’t wrap up as neatly and we are left with more questions than answers. Hopefully Ms. Bissell will not wait eight years to write book six.
Ms. Bissell’s Music of Ghosts is a enjoyable suspense thriller that will appeal to all readers who enjoy the thrill of a good small town mystery with a strong engaging female protagonist.
This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker Mature YA/Mystery July 2, 2012 Soho Teen
Reviewed by Tori
I have always been fascinated by the Kennedys. America’s very own version of the royal family; this family’s legacy has beena study in sorrow and tragedy. This Is W.A.R. reminded me of the Kennedy’s. The Gregory’s are an uber rich family whose money and fame rules a tiny exclusive lakeside community with an iron fist and can magically buy away any of their indiscretions. The premise of the book brought to mind the Martha Moxley case, which incidentally, coincides with the Kennedy family. A young girl is found floating dead in the lake, having been last seen with James Gregory, the heir apparent. His grandfather covers up this alleged crime with hush money, just as he has done for years. Only this time, the young girl’s friends, led by her step sister, decide that this time the Gregory’s won’t get away with it. The family must be destroyed and James must pay for his crimes. The girls start a secret club, W.A.R, which is the dead girl’s initials. Each are required to front $25K into the war chest, to be used to fund their revenge. As they girls struggle to find evidence against James and the Gregory family as a whole, secrets are revealed and each girl must fully examine their true motivations for wanting revenge. The pursuit of justice becomes a living entity that can free them…or destroy them all.
As I was reading this book, all I could think about was what if Martha Moxley’s friends had decided to take on the the Kennedy clan and make them pay for the murder of a 15 year old girl? Revenge is a powerful motivator and this book is all about revenge. Four very different girls with four very different motives attempt to take down a powerful seemingly untouchable family. Color me intrigued. The writing itself is good; equal parts vulnerability and feelings of immortality that most teenagers are affected with is captured perfectly. The story flows with some road bumps and numerous subplots keep you on your toes. The authors keep the suspense and intrigue at a decent level as you attempt to figure out exactly what happened that night, right along with our protagonists. There are four narrators, each telling the story from their own POV, giving us clues to what happened that night. As with any retelling, each girl has their own secrets and version of what happened and the story soon takes on a life of it’s own. It is all essentially told in sections…once all put together, we know exactly what happened and why.
While I found the story interesting, I felt it didn’t reach its true potential. Relatively short, only 288 pages, it is told by four people in the first person which, though interesting, leads to some confusion. Too much is thrown at you in order to bring about the climatic ending. The world building is almost non existent and you are left with questions. Lots of internal dialogue, speculative musing, and flashbacks left this reader lost and having to backtrack to see if I missed a turn somewhere. The whole “rich country club” persona the characters are afflicted with takes away some of the seriousness I felt this story deserved. Four girls are essentially destroying lives in order to avenge a friend and I felt like I was reading an episode from the Pretty Little Liars Club. Maybe if this had been made a series rather than a standalone, the character’s personalities could have fleshed out better, the character’s background explored more, and things would have made more sense. The money aspect for one. Each girl can easily put their hands on a cool $25K with no problems? I was also unimpressed with some of their ideas for revenge. They were very juvenile and did not appeal to my sense of humor as I think the authors expected. Basically, these girls didn’t think of things through. I expected some ingenuity but instead got ridiculous. Nude pictures and hormone pills in drinks? It was only at the end when everything else failed, the lightbulb went off and they started thinking smart.
All the characters had a larger than life caricature feel to them. Real but beefed up with exaggeration. The grandfather is a manipulative bastard whose reasons were enlightening and horrifying. Both James and his brother Tripp are the essential bad boys for whom normal rules of society and human decency have no effect on them. The girls struggle between loving and hating these boys and their perceived identities are pronounced. For example, the so called stupid one is shown REALLY stupid. Before their friend’s murder, they did whatever they could to get those boys to pay attention to them. Absent parents, social climbers, and cops who look the other way are the norm in this town. It’s almost as if the authors were trying to teach a lesson in here.
Regardless of my issues, I do think this book will appeal to the crowd it was written for-teenagers. It is dramatic with over the top situations and emotions and reads fast from start to finish. It had a “crack” feel to it that kept me reading to the end. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work all that well for me.
Favorite Quote: “I like my men brainy and cultured, which are not qualities prevalent in the men of Goodnight. One of the many reasons I haven’t been on a date in years. That and I’m related to a large portion of the male population.“
Mona McGregor may never have wanted to be the High Priestess but she takes her responsibilities very serious. With raising her two nieces, running her magical shop, and leading her large coven, Mona is a one woman machine with no time for anything or anyone extra in her life. That is, until sexy werewolf Adam Blue appears on her porch and tells her that someone has placed a hit on her. Suddenly, Mona is eyeballing everyone in her town, friend and family alike, trying to figure out who wants her dead. Mona and Adam team up to smoke out the killer and when the flames spark between the two of them, Mona is left trying to figure out how to put out the flames….and if she even wants to.
I love Ms. Harlow’s F.R.E.A.K. Squad series and was excited to see she was developing a new series within the same world. What’s A Witch To Do is filled with dry humor, steamy romance, and a well plotted mystery. We are taken on a fast light-hearted journey that leaves you laughing out loud while giving you a couple mysteries to solve. Bedlam reigns supreme as Mona tries to figure out who wants her dead and why she suddenly has two suitors after a fifteen year dry spell. Eccentric down to earth characters round out the story and give us insight into small town mentality and future storylines.
Mona, our heroine, is a woman whose life plays on your sympathy. Her inner dialogue and bouts of self deprecation will leave you chuckling. Cheerful and resilient, she is doing the work of ten people. Taking on the responsibilities of others has left her without a life of her own. Currently raising her two nieces after her rebellious younger sister abandoned them, leading and caring for a large coven, planning a wedding of another sister she raised, making spells and potions to help feed her family- you can’t help but root for her to find someone who wants her for herself, not for what she can do for them.
Adam, our hero, is a delightful beta in all sense of the word. He appears at the worst time in Mona’s life but settles in like a champ and gives her some much needed help. I enjoyed watching Mona and Adam become friends first then slowly move to a more enjoyable status as they try to find out who is trying to kill her. Adam has all the literary markings of a werewolf but Ms. Harlow develops his character from a human standpoint. He’s kind, considerate, helpful, and his chemistry with Mona is apparent from the start.
The secondary characters are all well fleshed out as they add delish snarkiness and humor to the story. Ms. Harlow does a good job of developing them in relation to the story line and the series. Mona’s nieces are adorable and I’m looking forward to learning more about their lives before coming to live with Mona. Her sister Debbie is fierce in her love for Mona and her bff’s, Tamara and Clay, are great in that they always have her back, even when she didn’t ask.
There were a few things that dampened my enjoyment of the story. At times I found Mona’s reactions to Adam a bit overwhelming as she places her own fears and issues on him but at the same time I understood where she was coming from. I also never understood why Mona didn’t ask for help or why no one in the town offered to help her. She had A LOT going on. And the last problem; the weight issue. Mona repeatedly refers to herself as fat and unattractive and when she goes out on a date, we are told it basically takes an army of makeup and acres of spanx to make her look good. I understand why Ms. Harlow does it; it goes far in explaining Mona’s self esteem issues, but when a few of the town residents call her a “fat bitch” it got my back up. It felt over dramatic and cheap in terms of plot devices.
The ending is predictable but excellent in how it plays out. What’s a Witch To Do? is a lighthearted and engaging paranormal romance with a mystery whose twists and turns will leave you laughing and guessing to the very end.
An enjoyable mystery thriller about a young lady who escapes the big city for some down time in a small religious town. As she settles down in her new...moreAn enjoyable mystery thriller about a young lady who escapes the big city for some down time in a small religious town. As she settles down in her new life, she discovers some strange happening in the town. The men are disappearing and she's positive the creepy priest and his hunchman nun has something to do with it. With the help of the local sheriff, she begins to dig beneath the placid town's surface, only to discover that things are not what they seem and her investigations may get her killed.
A good solid premise hooks you from page one. Engaging quirky characters and a well plotted mystery kept me guessing to the very end. I loved the heroine with her charming mixture of sarcasm and snark. She walks a fine line that will keep you entertained.
Book two, The Madness Underneath, picks up a few weeks after book one ends. Rory has been recuperating at home after being injured helping to take the Ripper down. Her therapist recommends she head back to school as a way to combat her fears. Rory has developed a new aspect to her ability to her seeing spirits and soon finds herself caught between two groups who want her and her powers.
This one was a disappointment for me. Rory remains her eccentric humorous self but the book itself doesn’t deliver on the premise. The first half sets up Rory dealing with the new aspect of her gift and doing some investigating on her own. The two main storylines start out extremely well and I was looking forward to seeing where Johnson would take them, but once again she falls back on building the story around Rory and they are left floundering. As with book one, certain scenes and plot lines don’t fully develop and we are left with many questions. Rory is more proactive in this installment but her actions and responses are extremely juvenile (for her age) and she pulls some stunts that made me question her intelligence. The romance is extremely light. The ending is fast and rushed with a cliffhanger that resolves nothing and leaves you feeling like you missed something.
All in all, this series is a quick read that I’d save for a beach and/or rainy day read. I would have enjoyed more if the conflicts has garnered the same exploration and emotion that our protagonist’s day to day musings had. The appeal and telling of it is geared towards a younger YA crowd, in my opinion.(less)
DNF-I was a huge MacBride fan when I was younger. Crime/Mystery fiction was my genre. Birthdays for the Dead doesn't seem like it was written by the s...moreDNF-I was a huge MacBride fan when I was younger. Crime/Mystery fiction was my genre. Birthdays for the Dead doesn't seem like it was written by the same author. The dark and forbidding premise is what drew me in but we get little of the actual mystery and more of day to day lives of the two protagonists and their thoughts and the various what nots involving the mystery. I wasn't able to connect with either of them and it made it hard to continue with the story. I'm pushing it off to the side for now and hope to come back to it when I am in a better fram eof mind and more open to this style of writing. (less)
An engaging predictable YA that deals with a young lady who wakes with amnesia. Attacked and left for dead, the story follows her as she tries to figu...moreAn engaging predictable YA that deals with a young lady who wakes with amnesia. Attacked and left for dead, the story follows her as she tries to figure out who tried to kill her and what happened to her supposedly best friend. (less)
Samantha Jones never thought her life would change when she answered a call for a repo. A young single mother who works and lives for her young son, Sam does what she can to try and make a better life for the both of them. When she pops the truck on the BMW and sees a man inside, beat up and shot, she has no time to react and finds herself sharing the tiny space with him.
Daniel Panterro is convinced this is his last stand. Kidnapped from protective custody and beaten within an inch of his life, he is shocked when a beautiful young woman opens the trunk and joins him in his mobile grave.
When Daniel and Sam escape, Daniel knows that the vicious men who kidnapped him won’t stop hunting them until they’re both dead. He grabs Sam and “persuades” her with the help of Smith and Wesson to get to safety. Sam is furious to be dragged into his situation and only wants to get to her son.
Now Sam, Daniel, and her son are on the run. Sam isn’t sure she can trust Daniel, but her heart wants this dark and dangerous man who seems intent on protect her and her son from even himself. Can Sam trust her heart, or will Daniel prove a fatal attraction?
I’ve always been a fan of Robards. She is one of those authors whom I don’t auto buy but know I can pick up just about anything of hers and be satisfied. Karen Robards Shiver is a strong character driven romantic thriller that is predictable in the set up and outcome but provides a few twists and turns in the journey to the end. A smooth flowing storyline that, perhaps unintentionally, focuses much more on the characters and their romance than the main conflict. I found myself guessing the ending halfway into the book. Plenty of action and tension lends to the main conflict’s storyline but it can’t maintain and isn’t able to compete with the characters. Well written dialogue and definite antagonistic chemistry between Daniel and Sam is what held my interest in the story.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She growled in self defense. “What do think I’m doing?” “It’s obvious, isn’t it? Copping a feel.” “If I was copping a feel, my hands would be inside your pants.”
Daniel was a mixture of contradictions. What we see is not what we get. Seemingly laid back and mild mannered, it’s only as the story progresses do we see exactly what he is involved in and just how deadly he can be. He has many sticks in the fire and while you know his lies will eventually trip him up, you know that everything he is doing from the time he meets Sam is protect her. Sam is not impressed with him in the beginning though. Threatening her with a gun and taking her from her child leaves a heavy mark against him. As with any smart female, it takes her awhile to warm up to him.
Sam was equally as enjoyable as Daniel. Intelligent, resourceful, and brimming with common sense, Sam is no pushover. Abandoned by her family and her son’s father, Sam relies on one person-herself. And everything she does is for her son, Tyler. I found her attitude towards Daniel to be spot on and I loved her sarcasm.
“We’d both be better off if I have the gun.” His tone was even, reasonable.
She snorted, “I don’t think so.” “How about if I give you my word I’m not going to shoot you?” “How about if I give you my word I’m not going to shoot you?” She paused. “Unless you deserve it.”
The romance is slow to build, more sexual tension than actual scenes. We spend a majority of the story watching them internally ruminate about each other and their attraction but the chemistry resonates throughout the story and it’s believable in its unfolding.
I enjoyed the heavy inclusion of Sam’s son into the story. He is a viable presence and provides some comic relief and a bridge to help facilitate the relationship between Sam and Daniel. Other secondary characters are seen more through Sam and Daniel’s points of views and we don’t get a lot of direct interaction with them. The main conflict is intriguing but stays firmly in the background. The beginning is explosive but quickly settles and the focus switches to our protagonists. It’s only in the last quarter of the book does the action reinstate itself and we finally get the reasons for the actions that started everything. I was a little disappointed by how quickly everything wrapped up. I expected more interaction with our villains in the story.
All in all, Shiver wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t an explosive one either. It’s a steady but predictable read. I was also disappointed in Daniel’s attitude. We are told he is dangerous but I never really felt it from him. His mild mannered facade worked too well and I could never make myself really think he was a bad ass. The excerpt gives the impression he is dangerous but he could never convince me of that and it left me feeling ambivalent.
Oh, where to start? The beginning 1/2 was fantastic. Claire is pardoned and because she pled no contest, her record is expunged and she is free to lea...moreOh, where to start? The beginning 1/2 was fantastic. Claire is pardoned and because she pled no contest, her record is expunged and she is free to leave Iowa and everything that happened behind. She travels to a friend's home to regroup and we see her beginning to shake off the effects of her abusive relationship with Tony. I enjoyed watching Claire and others stand up to Tony and we begin to realize that what we saw in Consequences wasn't 100% the Truth.
Then it changes. Claire never got over her feelings for Tony. She makes excuses for him to others and herself. While I can understand the 'love' that was there, Tony never redeems himself to me or Claire. He says he's sorry a lot but really? In some cases, an "I'm sorry," doesn't quite cut it and this is definitely one of them. He never seems to be really sorry for anything he's done; falling back on his need for revenge and expecting that to be an acceptable reason. He wanted her committed for cripes sake. Plus, as she gravitates back to Tony, I couldn't help but feel that all her friends who went out of their way to help her start over, took it rather well that she wanted to go back to him. I mean, should Tony find out, he has the means and temper to destroy them all.
As Romig works her twists and turns, she reveals more of the background and we realize that there were other forces at work yet even then, it doesn't excuse Tony's behavior.
The ending was confusing and I had to read a few times to get it. I spoke with Jen at Fiction Vixen who helped me sort it all. lol Thanks Jen!!
Will I read the next one? Probably, because I'm curious to see if Tony can ever be truly redeemed and there is small part of me that thinks (hopes) that this may yet be nothing more than a master plan on Claire's part.
I don't know what to rate it.
Edit: 4/3/2013-I have decided to give the bk 3 stars as I did love the first half and the second half has left me intrigued enough to read book 3. (less)
Favorite Quote: “It takes more courage to kneel before someone, than to stand beside them.“
Detective Gavin DeGrassi finds himself reluctantly intrigued when a brutal murder of a dom takes him into the world of BDSM. With the help of experienced Dom and psychologist, Ben Haversin, Gavin begins to divulge deeper into the world and is forced to acknowledge his own increasing desires; for the life and Ben. When more victims are discovered, Gavin jumps in head first and begins an emotional journey that pits him against his most challenging adversary-himself. However, Gavin and Ben have come under the scrutiny of the killer and if Gavin doesn’t solve this case soon, he and Ben may be the next in line for death.
Power Exchange is a steamy male/male erotic romance that pits our protagonists against a vicious serial killer while delivering a good balance between the romance and the mystery. I enjoyed the unfolding journey of a novice entering into the world of power exchanges and D/S relationships. AJ Rose does a nice job of presenting Gavin and Ben’s evolving relationship-addressing Gavin’s concerns and tentative overtures in a realistic fashion. With a steady pace, we are able to follow along and submerge ourselves in Gavin’s life fully with no uneasiness that sometimes occurs when reading erotic romance.
Gavin DeGrassi immediately inspires trust and affection. A legacy detective, he works homicide and enjoys it. We see that Gavin is a submissive personality right off the bat as his family, partner, and wife attempt to push him into situations he is not comfortable with. Unhappy and confused, it’s inevitable that Gavin will seek someone who can provide the structure and praise he so desperately is seeking.
Ben is a Dom and a shrink. Attractive and soft spoken, he is the grounding that Gavin needs in his life. He is brought onto the case as a consultant and when he and Gavin meet, the sparks fly. Their attraction leaps off the pages and Rose provides a nice subplot that allows Gavin and Ben to eventually act on their attraction without reprisal.
I liked that Gavin isn't portrayed as being broken or suffering from a major trauma and Ben isn't his savior. In fact, Rose repeatedly stresses, through Ben, that those suffering from trauma or abuse need professional counseling and/or therapy and a D/S relationship is not and should not be construed as an alternative. That has always been a sticky point with me concerning other BDSM books. When a traumatized heroine or hero is taken by a Dom who uses sex and bondage to treat them. If the trauma is debilitating, then they need professional treatment, not orgasms.
The romance and sexual scenes are off the charts. Rose doesn't hold back in allowing us to not only see the actual scenes but the emotions our protagonists are feeling. Again, I liked how gentle Ben was with Gavin. While Ben freely admits to wanting Gavin as his sub and wanting to dominate him sexually in many, many ways, Ben doesn’t seek to humiliate or control Gavin beyond the bedroom. He wants to provide Gavin with an escape from his normally frantic life and job. Contracts are fully explained, as is each aspect of his training. I really felt a connection between these two that went beyond a sexual one.
Secondary characters round out the stor, providing a stable base in which to build Gavin’s character and the plot. Gavin’s family is a normal cop family and very much a part of his life. His brother Cole plays heavy in the storyline and I hope Rose decides to write his story. Meeting the various characters that are part of the BDSM scene and mystery investigation and seeing their scenes and reading their thoughts is informative and, admittedly, HOT.
The mystery is quite interesting though easily solved. I found myself identifying the villain early on and a little put out by Gavin’s detecting skills. Or lack of them, as it may be, which definitely lowered my grade. One point of contention is that weeks pass and you don’t realize until is it mentioned in passing. At one point, I thought only a week or so had passed and come to find out it had been over a month. I was also disappointed with a major character who is taken out of the story early on and never brought back in. I expected more from them and the sub plot they were involved in as they have a major impact on Gavin’s life.
The ending wraps up everything neatly though roughly in a climactic finale and we are left with a nice epilogue that deals well with the aftermath.