Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

Pray for the Girl by [Souza, Joseph]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: April 30th, 2019

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find Pray for the Girl: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

Joseph Souza, acclaimed author of The Neighbor, brings readers into the dark heart of a small town in this riveting, relentlessly twisting new novel . . .

Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity–much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy–who knows something about hiding secrets–must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

My Review:

Mystery and thrillers have always had an enormous appeal for me. I love reading a book that makes my heart race. I also love reading a book where I have to figure out who the bad guy is. Of course, I have read duds, but it comes with the territory when you read as much as I do.

Pray for the Girl takes place in the fictional city of Fawn Grove, Maine. Lucy, a disabled veteran, has gone back to confront and make peace with her past. Soon after her arrival, Lucy gets caught up in the murder of a young Muslim girl. Investigating on her own, Lucy finds out that her hometown is not what she remembered. Secrets are many in Fawn Grove, and Lucy has her own. Who killed that girl? Why? The truth will be stunning.

I got caught up in Pray for the Girl’s main plotline. It was well written. I will say that the book is slow to start. But, it was laying the groundwork for the rest of the book. After the first couple of chapters, the book is on fire and doesn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down.

There was a massive twist in the middle of the book. I was not prepared for it. Not. At. All. After I got over my initial shock, I loved it. So much made sense when I looked back in the first half of the book. I do wish that it had been revealed a tad bit sooner. But then certain scenes wouldn’t have played out the way they did.

Lucy was one of my favorite characters, ever. She had my sympathy because of what happened to her. I liked that the author didn’t hold back when it came to her PTSD. Instead of glossing it over, he chose to go into detail about what Lucy went through daily. Being back in such a toxic town such as Fawn’s Grove didn’t help her either. I was a little surprised when she took it upon herself to look into the death of the Muslim girl. I didn’t understand why she took such an interest in that girl’s death. But, everything was explained around the same time the twist in the plot was revealed. Then it made perfect sense.

The end of the book was fast paced. There was a point where I had to stop and reread paragraphs to digest the information that was given. The very end of the book threw me for a loop. I am wondering if the author is setting up for another book involving Lucy? I hope so. That would be a book that I would love to read.

I would give Pray for the Girl and Adult rating. There is not sex (but there are mentions of sexual situations). There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Pray for the Girl. I would also recommend this book to family and friends

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Have you read Pray for the Girl?

What are your thoughts on it?

Let me know!!

The Neighbor by Joseph Souza

The Neighbor

3 Stars 

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: April 24th, 2017

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence

Where you can find The Neighbor: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In a taut psychological thriller filled with breathtaking twists, Joseph Souza explores the tangle of betrayal and deception between two neighboring couples and asks how well we can really know others–or ourselves. 

It all seems so promising at the start . . .

When Leah and her husband, Clay, move from Seattle to Maine, she envisions a vibrant new neighborhood packed with families–playmates for her twins, new friends she can confide in and bond with. But while Clay works long hours to establish his brewery, Leah is left alone each day in a nearly deserted housing development where the only other occupants are aloof and standoffish.

Bored and adrift, Leah finds herself watching Clarissa and Russell Gaines next door, envying their stylishly decorated home and their university careers. But Leah’s obsession with the intriguing, elegant Clarissa grows until she’s not just spying from afar but sneaking into their house, taking small objects . . . reading Clarissa’s diary. It contains clues to a hidden turmoil Leah never guessed at–and a connection to a local college girl who’s disappeared.

The more Leah learns about Clarissa, the more questions emerge. Because behind every neighbor’s door there are secrets that could shatter lives forever . . .

My review:

The Neighbor left me with mixed emotions. It also left me with mixed feelings. I like reading mysteries/thrillers. I also like reading books that take current events and put a fresh spin on them. The Neighbor did that. That is not what gave me mixed feelings. I felt that part of the book was very well written. My mixed feelings were about the characters and their storylines.

The storyline of The Neighbor was promising. A bored housewife starts spying on her next door neighbor. She soon becomes obsessed with her. The secondary storyline was about a missing college girl and her disappearance. I would have been fine with those two storylines. With the secondary storyline of Leah’s secret, Clarissa’s secrets, Clay’s secret, I couldn’t keep focused on the book. I felt overwhelmed.

I like damaged characters. They make the books they are in more interesting to read. But Leah was just out there. She came across as creepy. Put it this way, if I had a feeling that my neighbor was spying on me, I would be uncomfortable. I would have distanced myself like Clarissa did. I do wish that her secret came out in full earlier in the book, instead of being dragged out. Speaking of that, I didn’t like the 180 her secret took. By the end of the book, my head was spinning. I couldn’t keep up with everything.

Clay drove me nuts. His trying to rationalize his relationship with Mycah was pathetic. As was his trying to drink his issues away. I also couldn’t believe that he didn’t put two and two together about part of Leah’s secret. I mean, her attitude towards sex was a huge clue for me. While I thought that he was a tool, he did stand by Leah when push came to shove. So, I didn’t completely dislike him.

I ran through a lot of emotions with Clarissa. At first, I felt bad for her. But when her character did a 180, I was surprised. Then I started to dislike her. She was manipulative and knew how to work things in her favor. So, I wasn’t surprised by what happened to her at the end of the book.

Russell was the only one that I truly felt bad for. He was manipulated by all the women in the book. I felt that he didn’t have a chance because no matter what he did, he was screwed.

I actually enjoyed Mycah’s character. She was a strong woman who didn’t stand down for anyone. She was passionate about her beliefs. I do think that she got in over her head with Russell and Clay. Even though I enjoyed her character, I won’t excuse her actions.

The thriller part of the book was well written. I do feel that it got lost with everything that was going on.

The end of the book confused me. While I understood what happened, I felt the book ended too suddenly. I was left wondering what will happen.

What I liked about The Neighbor:

A) Promising storyline

B) Strong characters

C) Engaging storyline

What I disliked about The Neighbor:

A) Felt overwhelmed with the storylines.

B) The characters drove me nuts

C) The ending confused me

I would give The Neighbor an Adult rating. There is sex. The sex scenes between Clay and Mycah were graphic and degrading. There is language. There is violence. I would not recommend anyone under the age of 21 reading this book.

There are triggers in this book. They are sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence. If you are triggered by any of these, then do not read the book.

I am on the fence if I would recommend The Neighbor to friends and family. While I wouldn’t reread this book, I would be open to reading more books by the author.

I would like to thank Kensington, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Neighbor.

All opinions stated in this review of The Neighbor are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers: Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston

Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badger Chronicles Book 1) by [Laurenston, Shelly]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: March 27, 2018

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 400

POV: 3rd person

Series: The Honey Badgers

Hot and Badgered – Book 1

Where you can find Hot and Badgered: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely, they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.
Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is if he can keep up . . .

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading “Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers: Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston”

Don’t Tell a Soul by M. William Phelps

Don't Tell a Soul

Title: Don’t Tell a Soul

Author: M. William Phelps

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of Publication: February 28th, 2017

Genre: True Crime, Adult Nonfiction

Number of pages: 496

POV: 2nd person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (via Goodreads):

Cherry Walker was a devoted, trusting, an uncommonly innocent young woman who loved caring for a neighbor’s little boy. But when she was asked to testify in court against his abusive mother, Cherry never got the chance. She couldn’t lie if her life depended on it–and it did. Cherry’s body was found on the side of a Texas road, after being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame.
Attractive, manipulative, and violent, mother of four Kim Cargill had a wealth of dirty secrets she’d do anything to keep hidden. This in-depth account by bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps takes you inside Cargill’s shocking trial–and into the mind of one of the most conniving female psychopaths in recent history–and on death row.

My review:

I used to read a lot of true crime when I was in my teens/early 20’s. I had books on Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, the Son of Sam and other lesser known killers. It was somewhat of an obsession of mine to read these types of books. I was obsessed with the psychological aspect. I wanted to know what made these killers do what they did and what was that breaking point where they resorted to killing. I stopped reading true crime when an ex-boyfriend of mine made a flip comment about my collection one day….which resulted in my donating all of my books (awful, I know :() But, my fascination continued. I watch ID and Snapped all the time. BK has made the comment that I probably know more than the police when it comes to this stuff.

So, when Kensington approached me to review Don’t Tell a Soul, I jumped at the chance….even though it was not the usual genre that I review.

This book gave me chills because KC was such an evil person. I mean, you would have to be to kill someone and then light them on fire, trying to hide their identity. Even before that, she was just a bad person. She abused and terrorized her children, abused and terrorized her husband and basically anyone that came within her radar and didn’t give her what she wanted. She manipulated people into doing things (like her friend who tampered with evidence). She had no sense of remorse for anything she did….including Cherry’s murder.

Like I said above, the psychological aspect of this book was fascinating for me to read. Could KC have turned out to be a better person if she got the psychological help that she needed? I don’t know. There are arguments about people like her. Some people say they are born that way (genetic) and others say that environment creates these monsters. My opinion is that it is a combination of both.

I am going to end this post saying that Cherry’s murder was a senseless one and that I hope her parents get some sort of closure when KC is put to death. While these types of reviews are supposed to be impartial, I connected with Cherry through what the author wrote about her. She was one of those rare innocent people whose light got extinguished well before her time.

How many stars will I give Don’t Tell a Soul: 4

Why: I couldn’t put this book down, even though KC scared me. This isn’t a book for those who have weak stomachs though. There are some pretty graphic descriptions of Cherry’s body and child/spousal abuse.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Late teen

Why: Violence and some pretty graphic scenes/pictures of dead bodies and child/spousal abuse (no pictures of that!!)

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner: Book 2) by Lisa Black

Title: Unpunished

Author: Lisa Black

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: January 31st, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction

Number of pages: 321

POV: 3rd person

Series: Gardiner and Renner

That Darkness – Book 1

Unpunished – Book 2

Can be read out-of-order from series: No

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness.

It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines–literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today–and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all . . .

Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforces the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer– even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.

My review:

I really wish I had read That Darkness before I read Unpunished because I had so many questions about Maggie and Jack that couldn’t be answered in this book. I got frustrated because there were references to what happened to the first book and I had no clue what the characters were talking about.

But, besides my frustrations, I really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed it because it was a true vigilante/police novel. The last vigilante story that I read quickly turned into softcore book porn and the vigilante part was lost between the main characters bumping uglies. So, I was very pleased when this book didn’t even go near there.

I did like Maggie. She was so relatable on so many levels and she had a great relationship with her coworkers. She was a bit apprehensive when she found out that she was working with Jack on a case, but who wouldn’t be. I mean, she knows about his secret. She wasn’t unaffected by what happened to her (read the book to find out what) and she is required to see the police psychologist.

Now, Jack, on the other hand…..I wasn’t sure what to think of him. I wish I knew why he started vigilante killing (I am sure it was explained in the first book) because it would have explained a lot. I do know that I did start to see him soften towards Maggie, towards the end.

The newspaper storyline was pretty solid and moved rather quickly after the first victim was killed. I did have the killer pegged towards the middle book but doubted myself, took him off my list and added another person. All because of a red herring. Blah. I do want to say that I learned more about print newspapers and their equipment then I ever wanted to know.

The other storyline of Jack being a vigilante killer was barely touched upon. I do wish that it was included more in the book but I have a feeling it will be featured more in the next book. The reason I feel that way is because of certain events that happened towards the back of the book.

The end of the book was pretty gruesome and, to be honest, drug out a bit. I was a little surprised at who the killer was (see above). I will say that Maggie got the short end of the stick, again and that Jack seemed like he was softening up towards her.

How many stars will I give Unpunished: 4

Why: While I really liked the book, I do wish I had read book 1 before reading this one. Other than that, the book was great. The characters were engaging, the mystery was pretty good (had me going for a little while) and the thriller parts of the book were very well written. I do wish that more attention was paid towards Jack and him being a vigilante but at the same time, I do think that it would have taken away from the main storyline (the killings of newspaper employees).

Will I reread: Yes but only after reading book 1.

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence and language

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

House of Silence by [Barthel, Sarah]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington

Date of publication: December 27th, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin’s future—like that of every young woman—hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle’s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancé commit a horrific crime—and no one believes her.
Gregory denies all, and Isabelle’s mother insists she marries as planned rather than drag them into a scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband’s assassination.
In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.
Weaving together a thread of finely tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel’s debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling.

My review:

Isabelle is the envy of all the girls in Oak Park. She has caught the eye of handsome Gregory Gallagher, and he proposed to her. In an age where marriages are usually treated as business contracts, she considers herself lucky that she loves Gregory, and he loves her.

The night of her engagement party, Isabelle is ecstatic but, at the same time, worried about her friend Lucy. Lucy was too supposed to elope with her true love, Patrick, against the wishes of her mother. Isabelle was surprised when she sees Lucy at her engagement party. As soon as she can, Isabelle speaks to Lucy and finds out that Patrick was called out-of-town to tend to his sick mother. Lucy is understandably upset and resigned to the fact that her mother will marry her off to the highest bidder.

Isabelle is half listening to Lucy when she sees Gregory heading out to the garden. She decides to follow him and finds him talking to a servant girl in the garden. When she asks who that was, he explains that she was a servant girl, and she wanted to speak to him in the garden about a misunderstanding. Isabelle (who is a smart cookie) doesn’t quite believe him and follows him back to the party.

The next day, Isabelle is on her way lunch with her mother after a morning full of appointments. Her maid tells her that someone wants to have a word with her and asks Isabelle to pretend to miss a glove. The person who wants to meet her, the girl from the night before.

What Isabelle hears from the girl throws doubt on her relationship with Gregory. The girl, Katerina, tells Isabelle that she knew Gregory when he was growing up in Joliet, and she wants Isabelle to give him a message. Isabelle tells her she must have the wrong Gregory, but she will be happy to deliver the message for her. The girl is upset but doesn’t say any more.

She does tell Gregory and he reconfirmed that he doesn’t know her, which puts Isabelle at ease. A few days later, Isabelle decides to visit her maid, Abigail, at her house to give her a basket full of fruit, muffins, and tea to thank her for helping her pick out the dress. When Abigail is bringing the basket into the house, Isabelle is left outside, kicking stones. One of the stones goes several houses down, and she follows it. Isabelle hears Gregory and Katerina yelling. She goes to look in the front window, and what she sees terrifies her. She watches as Gregory strangles Katerina to death.

Traumatized by what she has seen, Isabelle stays where she was until dusk. She goes to look at the body and almost gets caught by Gregory when he comes back to move Katerina. Isabelle leaves the house and heads towards Abigail’s house, where she promptly passes out after twisting her ankle. When she comes too, she tries to tell her mother and Dr what she has seen. But they don’t believe her. Her mother tells her that Isabelle must have made it up, that Gregory is a good boy, and that Isabelle is lucky to be marrying him.

After having several run-ins with her mother and Gregory, Isabelle decides that going to a sanitarium would be the best thing for her. So she goes voluntarily mute and starts throwing horrible fits. The next day she was on her way there.

The sanitarium that she goes to is called the Bellevue Sanitarium. While residing there, Isabelle meets some colorful people but none more unusual than Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of Abraham Lincoln. She is admitted shortly after Isabelle, and soon the two of them are friends.

I liked Isabelle. She was so stubborn, and she stood by her story, even if it meant pretending to be insane to avoid marrying Gregory. I felt terrible for her because her mother should have believed her. During those scenes, I wanted to reach through the book and hug her.

Isabelle’s mother was one of the worse characters I have read in a book in a long time. I couldn’t stand her. She was very self-centered. I seriously wanted to smack her. She didn’t even pretend to care about Isabelle.

Historically, the book was on point. The author did a great job of adapting the time Mary Todd Lincoln spent in the Bellevue Sanitarium (and she did) into an excellent thriller.

There wasn’t a mystery to this book, though. You know everything upfront. But it was a mystery as to what Gregory would do when he finally got a hold of Isabelle.

The end of the book was great but somewhat predictable. I thought the girl power element was significant. I did feel bad for Gregory when everything was revealed, though.

I would give House of Silence an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread House of Silence. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Wind River Wrangler (Wind River Valley: Book 1) by Lindsay McKenna

Wind River Wrangler (Wind River Series Book 1) by [McKenna, Lindsay]

4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books, Zebra

Date of publication: October 25th, 2016

Genre: Romance

Series: Wind River Valley

Wind River WranglerBook 1

Wind River RancherBook 2

Wind River CowboyBook 3

Where you can find this book: Amazon |Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis:

Still waters run deep . . .

From the moment Roan Taggart picked up the pretty redhead at the Jackson Hole airport, his training and experience told him she was spooked. She’s left New York City to visit the Wind River Ranch, where Roan is a wrangler, and just as he can pick up a horse’s mood, he can feel the tension coming off her body. And that vulnerability is triggering all his protective instincts. . .

Shiloh Gallagher likes the gray-eyed cowboy’s dry humor—and the Special Forces background that lends him a stoic, powerful presence. But she’s been scarred by trauma and her mother’s murder . . . and knows a strong man can be dangerous. She came to wide-open Wyoming to flee a threat that’s left her unable to write her novels. Now, as she rides horses with Roan and helps him build an isolated cabin, she’s slowly letting down her guard. But danger has followed her west, and they won’t have a future together unless they defeat a killer from her past. . .

My review:

I am guilty of yet again judging a book by its cover. I went into reading this book thinking that it would be one of those slam, bam, thank you ma’am romance novel. Instead, what I read was something that kept me glued to this book.

Shiloh Gallagher is a successful romance author who is stressed beyond her limits. She is being stalked and her breaking point came when her stalker started to turn her doorknob on her apartment….even though it was locked. At the end of her rope, and with no help from the police or the FBI, she called her mother’s best friend Maud Whitcomb and asked if she could seek shelter at her ranch. Of course, Maud says yes and Shiloh heads out to Wyoming and the Wind River Ranch.

Roan is an ex-Army Special Forces operator who had come to work at the Wind River Ranch 2 years previously….after leaving the Army. He is told about Shiloh from Maud. See, Shiloh has undergone a lot of trauma in her life. Her father died when she was 7 and 3  years later, her mother was murdered, in front of Shiloh, by her stepfather. The reason why Maud was telling him this….well Shiloh would be bunking with him in the Employee’s only house for the duration of her stay.

When Roan meets Shiloh at the airport, sparks flew and of course, Shiloh tries to ignore them. As they get to know each other, Shiloh’s trust in Roan grows and she tells him the one horrible thing that she had only told the police about her mother’s murderer and her stepfather, Anton Leath. Not going to tell you what but oh my, did my heart-break for her. Because after she told her mother what she told Roan, her mother was murdered in front of her.

Now, I did figure out who the stalker on was pretty early on in the book. There were enough hints that it was pretty easy to figure out. Not that it took away from the book because when the stalker does show up in Wyoming and the events that unfolded, it was pretty surprising.

The sex scenes between Roan and Shiloh were hot, hot, hot. But, unfortunately, the author had to go down the “Hey, no protection…so are you clean because I am and let’s have unprotected sex route”. Which, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, I don’t like….lol. As I have said before and will say now, I am going to start a movement: Bloggers for Safe Sex of Fictional Characters (or BSSFC for short and OMG, I am killing myself here….lol)

The ending was pretty typical and all the storylines were wrapped up in satisfactory ways. I do wish that there was an epilogue (never thought I would say that) so we could peek in on Shiloh and Roan but seeing that there are two other books in the series, I am going to pray that they make an appearance.

I would give Wind River Wrangler an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Wind River Wrangler. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Poinciana Road by Margaret Way

Poinciana Road

1 Star

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: October 25th, 2016

Genre: Romance, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find this book: Amazon |Barnes and Nobles

Book synopsis:

It’s been six years since Mallory James left Moonglade, a former sugar plantation in the shadow of Australia’s magnificent rain forest. Now love and loyalty have called her home—but unspeakable secrets may compel her to flee once more…

A successful child psychologist, Mallory has no wish to return to the tropical hideaway where she experienced so much pain. But her Uncle Robert is ailing and it’s only right that she be there for the man who came to her rescue when she was a lost, lonely child. At least he is not alone—his protégé, and Mallory’s rival for his affections, is also at his side. Blaine Forrester hasn’t lost his knack for getting under Mallory’s skin, taking her breath away and leaving her unsettled at the same time.

While Robert recuperates, Mallory is shocked to learn that Jason Cartwright is on the payroll of his estate—the very man whose humiliating betrayal led her to leave North Queensland on the eve of her wedding. Confronting him—along with his wife and his manipulative twin sister—is a trial, though she can’t help forming a bond with little Ivy, Jason’s sickly daughter. But as tragedy strikes Moonglade, Mallory and Blaine will discover a darkness hidden within this deceptively beautiful world and their enigmatic circle—one that will either unite them at last, or tear apart the promise of paradise…

My review:

I am not a picky reader and I honestly do not like reviewing books and giving them bad reviews. I am one of those “let’s try to find the good in every book” type of person. But, I have run across a few books that I just cannot like and, unfortunately, Poinciana Road is one of them.

What aggravated me was that it had such a good storyline to it. A woman comes home to care for an ailing father figure and gets embroiled with her ex-fiance, his twin sister, his wife, and his daughter. It should have been good…..but it wasn’t. It was very painful to read and I almost DNF’d the book.

The plotline was crazy good and so much potential. It really did take me back to when I went through my Gothic romance phase. If the author had just stuck to that, the book could have been good. But she started adding that Mallory could read auras, see and hear ghosts and can receive messages from ghosts through dreams and I kinda went “eh”.

The relationship between Blaine and Mallory didn’t feel real to me and actually felt kinda forced. She didn’t like him at the beginning of the book….was jealous of him and went out of her way to be rude to him. It wasn’t an instant dislike. She didn’t like him for years and years because her Uncle Robert looked at him as a son. Actually, she was jealous of Blaine. So I, as a reader, am supposed to believe that she did a turnaround in the 2 weeks that she was staying with her uncle?

Even the secondary characters were awful. Kathy, Jason, Jessica, Ivy….no personality or they were over the top. And the mystery of what happened to Kathy, what was happening to Ivy and the relationship between Jessica and Jason was pretty cut and dry and I figured out each of them in turn. Plus, I was getting sick of Mallory psychoanalyzing everyone.

The sex scenes, I will say, were pretty tastefully done and were no frills. Actually, I couldn’t tell if I was actually reading a sex scene or not.

The ending was pretty typical and there was an HEA.

I would give Poinciana Road an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Poinciana Road. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

No Witness but the Moon (A Jimmy Vega Mystery) by Suzanne Chazin

No Witness but the Moon (A Jimmy Vega Mystery Book 3) by [Chazin, Suzanne]

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: October 25th, 2016

Series: Jimmy Vega Mystery

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where can the book be found: Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis:

On a clear, moonlit night in December, police detective Jimmy Vega races to the scene of a reported home invasion in an upscale New York community. As Vega arrives, he spots a Hispanic man who fits the description of the armed intruder, running from the victim’s estate. Vega chases him into the woods. When the suspect refuses to surrender—and reaches into his pocket—Vega has only seconds to make a life-or-death decision.

What begins as a tragic mistake takes an even darker turn when Vega uncovers disturbing links between the dead man and his own mother’s brutal, unsolved murder. Vega’s need for answers propels him back to his old Bronx neighborhood, where he is viewed as a disgraced cop, not a homegrown hero. It also puts him at odds with his girlfriend, Adele Figueroa, head of a local immigrant center, who must weigh her own doubts about his behavior. 

When a shocking piece of evidence surfaces, it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want Vega to put all the pieces together—and is willing to do whatever it takes to bury the truth. Only by risking everything will Vega be able to find justice, redemption, and the most elusive goal of all: the ability to forgive himself.

My review:

This is the first book I have ever read by Suzanne Chazin, and I loved it. Because of the world we live in, everyone lives under a microscope, including the police. So when a police officer shoots an unarmed man, it makes national news. This story is about a police shooting. It is also about illegal immigrants, which is another hot topic in America. So combine these two hot topics, and you get a story that keeps you riveted to the pages.

I liked Jimmy’s character. I do think that putting off seeing the psychologist and not taking his friends advice was stupid. Real stupid, and it made me shake my head. But, he did get some good solid leads about his mother’s murder and his impending court case.

Adele’s character was written great, and I loved how torn she was on Jimmy’s shooting case. When the going got hot, she didn’t buckle under pressure and kept her cool. Which meant distancing herself from Jimmy while investigating his case on her own.

The trio of storylines (Jimmy’s, his mother’s death and the other one) were tied together beautifully at the end. The twist that happened in the last chapters of the book kept me awake afterward going “No way, not this person.” I also loved how the author resolved each storyline in a way that no one else got hurt (well Jimmy did).

How many stars will I give No Witness But the Moon? 5

Why? Like I said in my first sentence, this book takes 2 hot topics (police shootings and illegal immigrants) and skillfully tells a tale that intertwines both.

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age range? Adult

Why? No sex. Violence, which includes a pretty vivid description of a head being blown off at below the chin.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Highland Chieftain (Murray Family: Book 21) by Hannah Howell

Highland Chieftain (The Murrays Book 21) by [Howell, Hannah]

Publisher: Kensington Books, Zebra

Date of publication: September 27th 2016

Genre: Romance

Series: The Murray Family, Book 21

Highland Destiny – Book 1

Highland Honor – Book 2

Highland Promise – Book 3

Highland Vow – Book 4

Highland Knight – Book 5

Highland Bride – Book 6 (Also Book 1 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Angel – Book 7

Highland Groom – Book 8 (Also Book 2 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Warrior – Book 9 (Also Book 3 of the Macenroy series)

Highland Conqueror – Book 10

Highland Champion – Book 11 (Also Book 2 of the Cameron series)

Highland Lover – Book 12 (Also Book 3 of the Cameron series)

Highland Barbarian – Book 13

Highland Savage – Book 14

Highland Wolf – Book 15

Highland Sinner – Book 16

Highland Protector – Book 17

Highland Avenger – Book 18

Highland Master – Book 19

Highland Guard – Book 20

Highland Chieftain – Book 21

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

The Murrays are back in this thrilling new tale from New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell . . .
Responsible for protecting her younger siblings from their abusive father, Bethoc Matheson is in no position to rescue another soul in Scotland. Yet when she sees a bleeding man on the verge of drowning, that’s exactly what she does, securing him safely in a cave where she can return day after day to tend to his wounds.
Sir Callum MacMillan can scarcely believe such a slight lass as Bethoc could save him from the grasp of death. But he knows the telltale marks of an angry fist on her skin, and he knows she has the soul of a fighter within her feminine frame. Raised to be a protector of the weak by his Murray clansmen, Callum would prefer to be the one saving her—and save her, he will. If he can first survive the treacherous attack that led him into her irresistible arms . . .

My review:

Bethoc is a young woman who is a slave and punching bag to her father. Her mother died in childbirth and  Bethoc took her place. She was afraid that it was going to turn sexual because he was starting to look at her like a woman and not a daughter. She protected her six younger siblings from him, including Margaret, a precocious 2-year-old. Bethoc’s mother died giving birth to Margaret. She made her promise to take care of her and never let her out of her sight. Bethoc has followed her orders.

One day, she is walking the shores of the loch by her land, and she finds a man on the beach, half drowned and with a broken leg. After she makes sure he was safe, she helps him to a local cave and sets his leg. She leaves him, goes home, and finds out that her father acquired another child. Her father would bring home boys that were orphaned or living on the street. He would have them work in his fields in exchange for a roof over their heads and food. In total, there were six boys, with ages ranging from 6 to 16. The newest boy was very young, around 4.

Between stepping between her father and the boys and taking care of Margaret, Bethoc has no time for herself. She stretches herself even thinner when she decides that she is going to nurse the man she found back to health. While she is doing that, she finds out that he is looking for a little boy who had been kidnapped. Also that his name is Callum MacMillan of the Murray Clan. He seduces Bethoc on the one rare occasion that she left Margaret with the oldest of the boys.

Once Callum’s men find him, they are planning on taking him and the boy back to Murray land. Callum decides that he is going to take Bethoc, her sister and the boys back with him. When Bethoc went back to the house to gather up the boys, she witnesses the murder of her father. When she returns to bury him, she is arrested by the sheriff of the village for his murder.

I am not going to go into what happens after that but let’s say that things get hairy for Bethoc.

I felt horrible for her. She had so many things go wrong in such a short time that I thought while reading the book, why can’t things go right for her. But things did end up changing for her about halfway through the book, and that’s when I felt like cheering.

I do think that her “witchy powers” (i.e., her sixth sense) should have been mentioned in the first half of the book. Introducing it halfway through confused me. But in a way, it worked.

I liked Callum. The more I learned about him the more I liked him. He went through a lot when he was a boy and made tremendous strides to get over it. He was candid with Bethoc about what happened to him (if you want to know, read the book). That scene in the book made me cry.

Bethoc and Callum’s relationship was pretty much sex from the get-go. No Instalove on either side. The feelings were there. They grew to the point where Bethoc was in love with Callum, and well, he didn’t know what he was with her. For being back in the day, their relationship was pretty modern. He refused to call her his mistress. But he also declined to put a name on their relationship until he was called out on it.

The sex scenes in the book were perfect. Enough detail is given to keep your imagination going. But not so it crossed that boundary into erotica. The only complaint I had was when Callum deflowered Bethoc. There was no build up accept a couple of kisses and then, bam; he was on top of her telling her what he was going to do.

The ending was perfect, and I loved the epilogue!!!

*I do want to note also that this is 100% a standalone book, even if it is #21 in a series!!!

How many stars will I give Highland Chieftain? 3.5-4

Why? A wonderfully written Scottish romance. I did have a small issue with the dialogue (it was written how Scottish people actually talked back then). Other than that, an engrossing read.

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Sex (not graphic), Violence, attempted drowning and attempted rape

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**