The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: November 7th, 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, World War II, Romance, Historical, Adult Fiction, Holocaust, Germany, War, Relationships

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

An epic story of love, betrayal, and art that spans decades, through the horrors of World War II to 21st century America, inspired by an actual porcelain factory in Dachau.

Two lovers caught at the crossroads of history.

A daughter’s search for the truth.

Germany, 1929. At a festive gathering of young bohemians in Weimar, two young artists, Max, a skilled Jewish architect, and Bettina, a celebrated avant-garde painter, are drawn to each other and begin a whirlwind romance. Their respective talents transport them to the dazzling lights of Berlin, but this bright beginning is quickly dimmed by the rising threat of Nazism. Max is arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where only his talent at making exquisite porcelain figures stands between him and seemingly certain death. Desperate to save her lover, Bettina risks everything to rescue him and escape Germany.

America, 1993. Clara, Bettina’s daughter, embarks on a journey to trace her roots and determine the identity of her father, a secret her mother has kept from her for reasons she’s never understood. Clara’s quest to piece together the puzzle of her origins transports us back in time to the darkness of Nazi Germany, where life is lived on a razor’s edge and deception and death lurk around every corner. Survival depends on strength, loyalty, and knowing true friend from hidden foe. And as Clara digs further, she begins to question why her mother was so determined to leave the truth of her harrowing past behind…

The Porcelain Maker is a powerful novel of enduring love and courage in the face of appalling brutality as a daughter seeks to unlock the mystery of her past.

First Line

In a tall cabinet, on a glass shelf, lies a white porcelain rabbit.

The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: The pace of The Porcelain Maker was medium throughout most of the book. It did speed up towards the end (when Bettina tried to flee Germany with Max).

Trigger/Content Warning: The Porcelain Maker contains content and trigger warnings. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Antisemitism (graphic)
  • War and War themes (graphic)
  • Violence (graphic)
  • Classism (moderate)
  • Dementia (moderate)
  • Depression (moderate)
  • PTSD (moderate)
  • Alcohol Consumption (moderate)
  • Dead Bodies (moderate)
  • Suicide (minor)
  • Starvation (moderate)
  • Grief (graphic)
  • Confinement (graphic)
  • Gun violence (moderate)
  • Murder (graphic)
  • Concentration Camp (moderate)
  • Genocide (moderate)
  • Mass Murder (moderate)
  • Abusive Relationship (minor)
  • Mental Health Hospitalization (minor)

Sexual Content:  There is sexual content in The Porcelain Maker. It was not graphic.

Language: There is moderate swearing in The Porcelain Maker. But there is offensive language used (slurs against Jewish people).

Setting: The Porcelain Maker is set in several locations. In Bettina and Max’s section of the book, the locations were various parts of Germany. In Clara’s book sections, the settings were Cincinnati, London, and Germany.

Tropes: War, Combining Real and Fiction Events, Including Historical Figures as Characters, Dual Timeline, What Life was Like, Survivor’s Guilt, Death Used as Catalyst, Bittersweet Ending, Alternation POV, Trauma

Age Range: I recommend The Porcelain Maker to anyone over 21.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Max and Bettina fall in love in the golden years between World War I and World War II. But, with the rise of Nazism, Max is soon captured and thrown into Dachau. What saves him from manual labor is an unexpected friend he had made at Allach’s famous porcelain factory and his talent for creating porcelain figures. Desperate to save Max, Bettina will do anything to save him. That includes planning a daring escape from Allach with Max. Will that escape happen?

Desperate to find out her father’s identity, Clara starts on a journey tracing her roots with the sparse clues her mother left her. But, what Clara discovers will shake her to her core and make her question everything she knew about her mother. Will Clara find out who her father is? And why didn’t her mother tell her?

Main Characters

Max Erlich: I liked Max. He truly loved Bettina and was willing to step back to let her shine. I was enraged with how he was captured (I was yelling at my Kindle). Then, I knew his plotline would go two ways: a happy ending way or the way that would shatter me (and Bettina). So, I wasn’t surprised by how it ended.

Bettina Vogel: This woman was strong. She knew her mind from the beginning and wasn’t about letting anyone tell her what to do. She had a plan to get out of Germany before Max was captured. But, when he was arrested, her plan had to be adjusted a bit. I disagreed with her marrying the SS guy, but I understood why she did it. What I didn’t understand was her after World War II. What was done to her messed her head up, but willingly not telling her child something that important made me scratch my head. Still, regardless of her choices, I liked her a lot.

Clara Vogel: I felt terrible for Clara. At times, she was chasing shadows and rumors about her father. I liked that her doggedness got her answers. That scene at Dachau, talking to a Holocaust survivor and looking at records, gave me chills.

My review:

When I started to read The Porcelain Maker, I was expecting it to be like other World War II/Nazi Germany books. The main character is captured by the Nazis, forced into concentration camps, and either done to them or seen horrendous things. But not in this case. In this case, while the horror of Dachau was there, it was muted and kept in the background. Which is what made the violence and racist remarks that Max endured at the porcelain factory even more shocking.

This book was an emotional read for me. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish community in Massachusetts. Several of my neighbors, friends, grandparents, and teachers survived concentration camps during World War II. Nothing was talked about, and seeing those inked, blue numbers wasn’t out of the ordinary for us. It wasn’t until a local woman started talking to the middle and high school about the Holocaust and what she endured that I truly got a sense of what happened.

The Porcelain Maker has three separate storylines. Those storylines follow Max, Bettina, and Clara. Max and Bettina’s storylines merge at the beginning of the book, but they separate once they move to Allach. Each storyline was well-written, and each had its twist that surprised me.

The storyline with Max affected me the most. I genuinely liked him and wanted everything to turn out well. But, after he moved to Allach with Bettina, I felt that everything that happened to him (and to her) was predestined. I wanted to change how the author wrapped up his storyline. I wasn’t surprised, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to happen.

The storyline with Bettina also affected me. As I said in her character section, I thought she was strong. Once the Nazis put Max into Dachau, everything she did was to protect her baby and, ultimately, to work towards seeing Max again. Did I agree or like everything she did? No, but I did understand. I also understood why she was so broken in Clara’s recollections. Living through something like that and with what was done to her would scar anyone.

The storyline with Clara intrigued me. I liked seeing her journey to finding out who her father was. What I liked even more was that the author set the storyline in 1993. There were few computers or internet access back then (I remember using dial-up in 1994 or 1995 for the first time). Clara had actually to do the research. I liked how she got one tiny breadcrumb after another, eventually leading to someone who knew her father. I won’t lie; I did get emotional while reading her storyline. I got all the emotions and then some.

The end of The Porcelain Maker was perfect. I won’t say anything about what was written except that I liked it. And the epilogue was just as good. Talk about a tribute!!!!

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Sarah Freethy for allowing me to read and review this ARC of The Porcelain Maker. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to The Porcelain Maker, then you will enjoy these books:

Friends Don’t Fall in Love by Erin Hahn

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: October 17th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Music, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Erin Hahn’s Friends Don’t Fall in Love is about long-time friends, taking chances, and finding out that, sometimes, your perfect person was right there in your corner all along.

Lorelai Jones had it all: a thriving country music career and a superstar fiancé. Then she played one teenie tiny protest song at a concert and ruined her entire future, including her impending celebrity marriage. But five years later, she refuses to be done with her dreams and calls up the one person who stuck by her, her dear friend and her former fiancé’s co-writer and bandmate, Craig.

Craig Boseman’s held a torch for Lorelai for years, but even he knows the backup bass player never gets the girl. Things are different now, though. Craig owns his own indie record label and his songwriting career is taking off. If he can confront his past and embrace his gifts, he might just be able to help Lorelai earn the comeback she deserves―and maybe win her heart in the process.

But when the two reunite to rebuild her career and finally scratch that itch that’s been building between them for years, Lorelai realizes a lot about what friends don’t do. For one, friends don’t have scratch-that-itch sex. They also don’t almost-kiss on street corners, publish secret erotic poetry about each other, have counter-top sex, write songs for each other, have no-strings motorcycle sex, or go on dates. And they sure as heck don’t fall in love… right?

First Line:

It takes me approximately five minutes to find Lorelai Jones, recently spurned country music princess, let loose in Nashville.

Friends Don’t Fall in Love by Erin Hahn

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: The pacing of Friends Don’t Fall in Love was a nice medium pace. There was next to no lag, and the storyline flowed smoothly.

Trigger/Content Warning: There are a couple of trigger warnings in Friends Don’t Fall in Love. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • School Shootings/Gun Violence: Lorelai’s backstory and main storyline heavily refer to school shootings. Lorelai is a 3rd-grade teacher and recounts monthly lockdown drills. Her career ended because of backlash that she got from singing Neil Young’s Ohio (lyrics here).
  • Chronic Illness: Lorelai had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease 6 months before the main storyline began. There is a scene when Lorelai flares up after eating non-gluten-free food.

Sexual Content: Friends Don’t Fall in Love is a very spicy romance with explicit scenes.

Language: There is mild to moderate swearing in Friends Don’t Fall in Love.

Setting: Friend’s Don’t Fall in Love is mainly set in Nashville, Tennessee. But there are a couple of chapters that are set in Michigan.

Representation:  There is LGBTQ representation. Craig’s employee is gay and is married. Lorelai’s agent is a lesbian and is also married.

Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Unrequited Love, Opposites Attract

Age Range to read Friends Don’t Fall in Love: I would suggest 21 and over for this book. The sex scenes are very explicit and very spicy.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Lorelai Jones was an up-and-coming country star, and she had it all: a thriving career, dedicated fans, and a superstar fiancee. But that all went up in smoke after she sang a protest song. Her career was over, and her superstar fiancee dumped her over Instagram. Five years later, Lorelai decides that she wants to make a comeback. She contacts Craig, her best friend and ex-fiance’s former songwriter, and enlists his help.

Craig has been in love with Lorelai for years. Content just being in the friend zone, he will bend over backward for her. That includes producing a new record for her. But, as they work closely together, Lorelai realizes that her feelings for Craig aren’t ones of friendship. Deciding to act on those feelings, she and Craig enter a new, unexplored area of their relationship. Can Lorelai and Craig keep their feelings for each other to just the bedroom? Or will Lorelai lose her best friend for good?

Main Characters

Lorelai Jones: I liked her. She was spunky, and she wasn’t afraid to let people know what she was feeling. Before she hit it big, Lorelai was a 3rd-grade teacher, and doing lockdown drills affected her. So, when she sang that protest song (with permission from her manager), she did it from the viewpoint of a former teacher. She wasn’t expecting the backlash. I give her credit for trying to make it again in Nashville after agents refused to sign her. But, and I stress this, I was a little “are you serious” when it came to Craig’s feelings for her. How can you not know that man was head over heels for you? It wasn’t like he was hiding his feelings (spoiler: he wasn’t). I couldn’t believe it took her six years to admit she had feelings for him, too.

Craig “Huck” Boseman: I liked Craig. He was written as an ordinary guy. He wasn’t athletic, was quite nerdy, and was in touch with his feelings. I mean, he wrote erotic poetry!!! He is portrayed as a pushover at the beginning of the book. It didn’t stay that way (he eventually started establishing boundaries). My only quibble with him was his relationship with Lorelai. He had been friend-zoned after that night they had, and he was content to keep it that way. When they made that jump from friends to lovers, I was a little scared for him. He was a sensitive guy, and I was worried that Lorelai would steamroll over his feelings.

Secondary characters: The secondary characters did add extra depth and nuance to Friends Don’t Fall in Love. Some characters explained Lorelai’s music backstory. Others explained Craig’s backstory, and still others added depth to their feelings and storylines.

My review:

Friend’s Don’t Fall in Love was a well-written book that glued me to my Kindle. I enjoyed reading about Lorelai and Craig’s romantic relationship and friendship. I also enjoyed reading about Nashville and the country music industry. I also agreed with the point the author was making with Lorelai singing the protest song. This book will be going into my read-again pile.

The main storyline centers on Lorelai, her fall from fame, her work to get back into Nashville’s music scene, and her relationship with Craig. I thought it was well written. I was invested in Lorelai and wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to show all her critics the middle finger while she regained her status as an up-and-coming country star. I also wanted her relationship with Craig to work in the worst way.

The romance angle was perfect (chef’s kiss). I liked that the author chose to have Craig and Lorelai have a close friendship before they got involved. It made them getting romantically involved much more believable to me. I also liked that Lorelai was the one who had to come to terms with her feelings instead of Craig. It was refreshing to read.

As I stated a few times above, the sex scenes in Friends Don’t Fall in Love are spicy and explicit. The author does mention it on the book’s Goodreads page, but I read that after I finished the book. So, I was a little surprised at how raunchy it got.

The end of Friends Don’t Fall in Love was perfect in every way. The author wrapped everything up in a way that I loved and made me smile.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Erin Hahn for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Friends Don’t Fall in Love. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Friends Don’t Fall in Love, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Erin Hahn

Love Interest by Clare Gilmore

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: October 10th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Adult, Fiction, Chick Lit, New Adult, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sparkling adversaries-to-lovers romcom set at a magazine publisher in Manhattan. When Casey and Alex are forced into proximity, they soon realize falling for each other is just as much of a risk and as it is a reward.

Casey Maitland has always preferred the reliability of numbers, despite growing up the daughter of two artistic souls. Now a twenty-four-year-old finance expert working in Manhattan, Casey wonders if the project manager opening at her company – magazine powerhouse LC Publications – is a sign from the universe to pursue a career with a little more sparkle. That is, until she’s passed over for the job in favor of the board chairman’s son.

Alex Harrison is handsome, Harvard-educated, and enigmatic. Everybody loves him – except for Casey. But when the two are thrown on the same project, they both have something to prove. For Casey, it’s getting tapped for a transfer to the London office and fulfilling her dreams of travelling. For Alex, it’s successfully launching a brand that will impress his distant father.

As work meetings turn into after hours, Casey and Alex are drawn to each other again and again, but neither can avoid the messy secrets and corporate intrigue threatening to tear them apart. What they discover about their workplace might change everything – including the dreams each of them is chasing.

First Line:

The meeting invitation appears on my cell phone screen when I’m halfway up the subway staircase.

Love Interest by Clare Gilmore

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: Love Interest is a medium to fast-paced book. While the pacing suited the book, the author could have slowed it down. I had to go back and read some significant parts of the book. There is a lag in Love Interest. The lag didn’t affect how I liked the book.

Trigger/Content Warning: Surprisingly, there are no trigger or content warnings in Love Interest. After reading many books with triggers, it was refreshing to read one that didn’t.

Sexual Content: There are sexual scenes in Love Interest. Seeing that this is a modern-day romance, I wasn’t too surprised that there was. The sex scenes are explicit enough to be hot but didn’t cross the line into TMI.

Language: There is foul language used in Love Interest.

Setting: Love Interest is set entirely in New York City.

Representation: There is queer and BIPOC representation in Love Interest. Casey is white and straight, but she has friends who are BIPOC and queer (which is fantastic). Alex is half Korean and straight. His friends are Casey’s friends.

Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Workplace Romance

Age Range to read Love Interest: 21 and over

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Casey is a financial advisor for a magazine who wonders if she can insert a little pizzazz into her life. So, when a position for project manager becomes available in her company, she applies. Casey is mad when she is passed over for the job for the chairman’s son, Alex. She is furious when assigned to the project that Alex is heading. But her fury wanes as she gets to know Alex, and she starts to catch glimpses of the real him. A friendship evolves that soon turns into a not-so-hidden workplace romance. But, as rumors swirl about the fate of the magazine and the project Casey is on becomes Alex’s chance to show his father what he can do, can their romance survive?

Main Characters

Casey Maitland: I will be the odd one out here, but I didn’t initially like Casey. Her attitude towards Alex was awful. Yes, I get that it was fueled by disappointment and anger, but it made her seem like a teenager instead of the adult she was. But, by the middle of the book (when she and Alex started dating), I liked her. This was an infrequent case of a character redeeming herself. She became a supportive girlfriend who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was. But she also kept her sense of self. She had plans, and those plans were going to happen, if Alex was in her life or not.

Alex Harrison: I initially liked him, but he had Daddy issues. His sense of self was wrapped up in getting approval from a distant and cold father. But I liked that he didn’t use nepotism to get the job at the magazine (but I am sure that’s what got him the job if it makes sense). I liked how he handled Casey at the beginning of the book. But he did change a little towards the middle of the book. He had stated at the beginning of the book (shortly before Casey and he started hooking up) that he didn’t believe or want relationships because he didn’t want to be tethered. Yet, by the middle of the book, he was only with Casey. I liked that the author did have Alex come to terms with his father by himself.

Secondary characters: I know this paragraph is the same in every review, but in this case, the secondary characters did make the book. Each character added extra depth, nuance, and flair to the storyline. If the book weren’t about Alex and Casey, I would have been happy to read about the secondary characters. That is how much oomph they brought to this book.

My review:

Love Interest was an interesting and good read. I got involved with the main characters and was rooting for them to overcome their obstacles. I also loved the secondary characters and the vibrance they brought to the book.

The main storyline of Love Interest focuses on Casey and Alex as they navigate their romance and project together. I liked that the author made this storyline relatable and believable. I wanted them both to succeed at what they were doing and their romance. I was caught up in this storyline and was very happy with the ending and the epilogue.

I liked the romance angle of Love Interest. I liked that Casey and Alex’s romance happened organically (as organic as a romance novel can get). It wasn’t Instalove by a long shot.

The end of Love Interest was sweet. I loved how the author ended all the storylines and tied them into Casey and Alex’s storyline. I also loved the epilogue. After reading that, I went to sleep with a massive smile.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Clare Gilmore for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Love Interest. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Love Interest, then you will enjoy these books:

A Traitor in Whitehall (Parisian Orphan: Book 1) by Julia Kelly

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: October 3rd, 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Historical, Mystery Thriller, Adult Fiction, World War II, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Mystery

Series: Parisian Orphan

A Traitor in Whitehall—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

From Julia Kelly, internationally bestselling author of The Last Dance of the Debutante, comes the first in the mysterious and immersive Parisian Orphan series, A Traitor in Whitehall.

1940, England: Evelyne Redfern, known as “The Parisian Orphan” as a child, is working on the line at a munitions factory in wartime London. When Mr. Fletcher, one of her father’s old friends, spots Evelyne on a night out, Evelyne finds herself plunged into the world of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet war rooms.

However, shortly after she settles into her new role as a secretary, one of the girls at work is murdered, and Evelyne must use all of her amateur sleuthing expertise to find the killer. But doing so puts her right in the path of David Poole, a cagey minister’s aide who seems determined to thwart her investigations. That is, until Evelyne finds out David’s real mission is to root out a mole selling government secrets to Britain’s enemies, and the pair begrudgingly team up.

With her quick wit, sharp eyes, and determination, will Evelyne be able to find out who’s been selling England’s secrets and catch a killer, all while battling her growing attraction to David?

First Line:

“Miss Redfern!” snapped Miss Wilkes, causing me to jerk up and my pencil to skitter across the page of my notebook.

A Traitor in Whitehall by Julia Kelly

Important things you need to know about the book:

A Traitor in Whitehall is the first book in the Parisian Orphan series. Since it is the first book in the series, you don’t have previous books to read. You can dive into this without worrying about previous storylines or characters appearing and throwing the main storylines off.

A Traitor in Whitehall was a medium-paced book for me. There were some areas (mainly towards the end) where the pacing did speed up. But it was consistently medium-paced throughout the book. There was some lag in the middle of the book (during Evelyne and David’s investigation). It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

There are trigger warnings in A Traitor in Whitehall. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  1. Bullying: While Evelyne didn’t experience Jean’s bullying tactics, the other women in the typing pool did. Jean caused one woman to quit her job because she threatened to expose her secrets—several other women experienced blackmail by Jean.
  2. Death: Besides the obvious (Evelyne finding Jean’s body), the book details the questionable death of Evelyne’s mother.
  3. Divorce: Evelyne remembers her parents’ contentious divorce and custody battle over her. It had made the papers, and the newspapers painted her mother badly.
  4. Murder: Evelyne and David are investigating Jean’s murder. Evelyne suspects that her mother was murdered.
  5. Sexism: Evelyne experiences era-appropriate sexism.
  6. War: A Traitor in Whitehall takes place in World War II. Evelyne experiences drills, blackouts, rations, and bombing throughout the book.

Sexual Content: There is no on-page sexual content in A Traitor in Whitehall. It is alluded that Jean is having affairs with some ministers and their staff.

Language:  There is no graphic language in A Traitor in Whitehall.

Setting: A Traitor in Whitehall is set in World War II in London, England.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Evelyne Redfern is working in a munitions factory in World War II-era London. A chance meeting with a childhood friend of her absent father, Evelyne finds her working as a secretary in a top-secret location for Winston Churchhill’s war department. Soon after her arrival, Evelyne stumbles upon the body of one of the secretaries (Jean). That starts Evelyne’s investigation into Jean’s murder and puts her in the path of the mysterious David Poole. When David reveals that he is undercover investigating a possible mole and that Jean could be a link, Evelyne and he team up. Can they discover who the mole is? Can they figure out who killed Jean? And lastly, can they connect the mole and Jean?

Main Characters

Evelyne Redfern: I liked Evelyne. She was bright, loved reading mysteries (Agatha Christie was her favorite), and didn’t miss a thing. She was also straightforward to talk to, which was helpful when she and David were interrogating people. Evelyne used her real-life contacts and what she learned from the mysteries she loved to read to figure out parts of Jean’s murder that otherwise would have gone missing. I also enjoyed that Evelyne liked looking at David (he was good-looking) and wasn’t ashamed about it. She did have faults, though. She tended to go off alone (surprising David at the gambling hall was one) and pushed boundaries (Charlotte and Patricia’s stories come to mind).

David Poole: I initially didn’t know what to make of him. He was very mysterious and was often abrupt with Evelyne. But the more he appeared in the book, the more I liked him. He let Evelyne take the lead in Jean’s murder investigation. I liked how he low-key put people in their place so they would answer her questions. I also liked how David asked for and listened to her input about the mole. He was always there, backing her up, and was instrumental in helping catch Jean’s murderer and the mole. I also liked how the author slyly brought him into Mr. Fletcher’s work.

Secondary characters: There were numerous secondary characters mentioned throughout the book. Each character added their nuance and depth to the storyline. The characters that stood out the most to me were: Mr. Fletcher, Mrs. White, Moira, Irene, Patricia, Aunt Amelia, Mr. Pearson, Inspectors Maxwell and Plaice, Caroline, Mr. Faylen, and Charlotte.

My review:

I enjoyed reading A Traitor in Whitehall. I have a weakness for World War II-era books, and when I read the blurb for this one, I knew I wanted to read it. I am glad I did because this book was a good read.

The storyline centering around Jean’s murder and Evelyne’s investigation was well written. I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. The author had so many red herrings that I thought it was someone other than who it was. I was shocked at who was revealed and the motive behind the person killing Jean.

The storyline centering around the mole was interesting. Later in the book, it is introduced and intertwined with Jean’s murder. I did figure out half of this storyline reasonably early. But I was surprised at who else was involved. Again, it took me by surprise.

Both storylines merge at the end of the book. I won’t talk about what happened, but I will say this: the murderer and the mole are the same person. There is someone else involved, too.

As I stated above, the mystery/thriller angle was well written. The author kept me on my toes for the entire book. It isn’t very often that I can’t figure out who the killer is.

I may be imagining this, but I saw a possible romance between Evelyne and David. Their chemistry was beautiful in the book, and I can’t wait to see how they work together in upcoming books.

The end of A Traitor in Whitehall was great. I liked how the author united and solved Jean’s murder and who the mole was. But it was after that mystery was solved that I loved it. I can’t wait to see Evelyne and David work together again!!!

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Julia Kelly for allowing me to read and review this ARC of A Traitor in Whitehall. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to A Traitor in Whitehall, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Julia Kelly

The Intern by Michele Campbell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: October 3rd, 2023

Genre: Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Adult, Legal Thriller, Contemporary, Adult Fiction, Crime

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young Harvard law student falls under the spell of a charismatic judge in this timely and thrilling novel about class, ambition, family and murder.

Madison Rivera lands the internship of a lifetime working for Judge Kathryn Conroy. But Madison has a secret that could destroy her career. Her troubled younger brother Danny has been arrested, and Conroy is the judge on his case.

When Danny goes missing after accusing the judge of corruption, Madison’s quest for answers brings her deep into the judge’s glamorous world. Is Kathryn Conroy a mentor, a victim, or a criminal? Is she trying to help Madison or use her as a pawn? And why is somebody trying to kill her?

As the two women circle each other in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game, will they save each other, or will betrayal leave one of them dead?

First Line:

She loved the way her professor moved.

The Intern by Michele Campbell

Important things you need to know about the book:

The Intern is a fast-paced book that burns through the storyline. For the most part, the storyline keeps up with the author’s fast dialogue and pacing. But, it does get a bit choppy (not laggy, choppy) in the middle of the book (during Kathryn’s storyline, when her co-worker gets blown up). The choppiness didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book, but it did distract me from what was happening.

The Intern is told from a dual point of view: Madison in the present day and Kathryn in the past. When the author switches, she clearly states who it is and, in most cases, where that person is. I did not have an issue following the storyline back and forth.

There are trigger warnings in The Intern. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Violence: This book has a lot of violence, both on and off the page.
  • Gore: Again, the gore is both on and off the page.
  • Abusive Relationship: I did go back and forth when deciding to put this as a warning. But Kathryn is in an abusive relationship with her half-brother and his mother. It goes back years (to when she was 12 years old). The abuse is primarily verbal and psychological, but there are instances of physical abuse.
  • Assault: In prison, Madison’s brother, Danny, is assaulted. There are attempts of assault on Madison throughout the book.
  • Cancer: Kathryn’s mother had leukemia in the past and present of The Intern.
  • Death: There is a lot of death in The Intern. The deaths range from accidents to murder.
  • Gun Violence: There is gun violence throughout the book, both on and off the page.
  • Police Brutality/Corruption: This is a massive theme throughout The Intern. Almost every police officer/correctional officer, except a couple, is in cahoots with Charlie.

Sexual Content: There are some light kissing scenes, mainly between Kathryn and her deceased husband. There are implications of Kathryn’s mother sleeping with Eddie at the beginning of the book.

Language: There is explicit language.

Setting: The Intern is set in Boston and the surrounding suburbs (northeast and south). Some scenes are set in Washington, D.C., New York, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. The author didn’t give a ton of detail about Boston or any of the other states. However, the author provided enough for me to agree that the author did her research.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

A Harvard student, Madison is thrilled to be in a class taught by her idol, Judge Kathryn Conroy. She is even more delighted when the judge offers her an internship in her chambers. But Madison’s joy turns to disbelief when her brother, arrested on drug charges, tells her that Kathryn is dirty. Then, he goes missing. So, it is up to Madison to find out where he is and if Kathryn is dirty. But Kathryn has her secrets. With Madison wary and looking for answers and Kathryn needing to protect hers, there will be a showdown, and someone will get hurt. When the dust settles, who will be left standing?

Main Characters:

Madison Rivera: I liked her, even if I did find her slightly annoying. She had to work hard to get to where she was. But, once her brother dropped his bombshell, Madison immediately acted. She was determined to help him and find him when he disappeared. Her determination, her wanting to network, and (if I’m going, to be honest) her being nosey were a massive part of why Madison ended up embroiled in Kathryn’s issues. There was a point in the book where I wondered if she would become expendable, but that was put to rest by the end. I am glad that her storyline ended the way it did.

Judge Kathryn Conroy: I am not going to mince words here. She had a crap life up to the age of twelve. Her mother was self-absorbed and an awful mother. Her father treated Kathryn like a dirty secret. Uncle Ray skeeved me out. The worst thing that could have happened to her was her mother getting sick and her going to live with Eddie. Kathryn was set up from that age on to become a part of a vast criminal network, and no matter how many times she tried to get out, they found ways to pull her back in. I didn’t judge her for doing what she did after her husband’s death. I would have done the same thing if I were in her shoes. I was just surprised she kept it a secret from Ray for a long time. I also would have struck the same deal that she did with Madison.

My review:

The Intern was a well-written thriller that kept me glued to the book. I didn’t know where the plotline would take me from one page to another. When I finished the book, I felt like I should double-check the locks on my doors. I was that unnerved.

The mystery/thriller angle was terrific. As I said, I didn’t know what I was getting from one page to another. There were some interesting and surprising twists thrown in throughout the book. But the one that surprised me was what happened with Ray at the end of the book. I was expecting something else.

The end of The Intern was typical. I liked how the author wrapped up the storylines. I had no issues believing the end of Madison’s storyline. The end to Kathryn’s was a little more unbelievable, but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed it.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Michele Campbell for allowing me to read and review this ARC of The Intern. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy books similar to The Intern, then you will enjoy these:

Other books by Michele Campbell:

Dreambound by Dan Frey

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: September 12th, 2023

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Adult Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | Kobo | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this thrilling contemporary fantasy novel, a father must uncover the secret magical underbelly of Los Angeles to find his daughter, who has seemingly disappeared into the fictional universe of her favorite fantasy series.

When Byron Kidd’s twelve-year-old daughter vanishes, the only clue left behind is a note claiming she’s taken off to explore the Hidden World, a magical land from a series of popular novels. She is not the only child to seek out this imaginary realm in recent years, and Byron—a cynical and hard-nosed reporter—is determined to discover the whereabouts of dozens of missing kids.

Byron secures a high-profile interview with Annabelle Tobin, the eccentric author of the books, and heads off to her palatial home in the Hollywood Hills. But the truth Byron discovers is more fantastical than he ever could have dreamed.

As he uncovers locations from the books that seem to be bleeding into the real world, he must shed his doubts and dive headfirst into the mystical secrets of Los Angeles if he ever hopes to reunite with his child. Soon Byron finds himself on his own epic journey—but if he’s not careful, he could be the next one to disappear…

Told through journal entries, transcripts, emails, and excerpts from Tobin’s novels, Dreambound is a spellbinding homage to Los Angeles and an immersive

First Line:

Dear Mom and Dad, If you’re reading this, I’ve already left.

Dreambound by Dan Frey

Byron Kidd’s world was turned upside down when his twelve-year-old daughter, Liza, disappeared. But he soon has hope. Then, an Instagram picture of his daughter in Los Angeles surfaces. Using his investigative journalist skills, Byron heads to Los Angeles to find his daughter. When it becomes apparent that the fantasy series his daughter loved has roots in reality, Byron must discard everything he knew about the world to save his daughter. Can he find Liza? Or will he disappear like his daughter?

I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed reading this book. I had seen it on the Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine’s NetGalley page, read the blurb, thought it was exciting, and wished for it. When I got the email that the wish was granted, I was happy but not overly so. Then I read the book, and I was hooked.

Dreambound isn’t written in your standard novel format. The author chose to write it differently. He used interviews, journal entries, text messages, emails, excerpts from Annabelle Tobin’s books (it is a series), and excerpts from a folktale book to tell the story. At first, I admit, I was a little iffy about it. I had read several books in this format (mainly journal entries) and wasn’t impressed with them. But the author made it work and did it in a way that kept me glued to the book.

The main storyline of Dreambound centers around Liza, her disappearance, and Byron’s search for her. It is a fast-paced storyline that has a ton of twists and turns to it. It is also well-written, and I loved the lore the author created.

I didn’t like Byron at first. I sympathized with him, but he was such a dick during the book’s first half (and well into the second). His ego was enormous, and his drinking was out of control. But, even though I didn’t like him, his love for his daughter showed through. He was willing to do whatever it took (faking emails from a publisher/breaking and entering) to find Liza. By the end of the book, my dislike of him did lift a little, but it never went away.

Liza broke my heart because I could see myself (at twelve) in her. She was awkward, loved reading, and loved anything fantasy. Liza used fantasy to cope with her father’s drinking and her parents fighting. So, it wasn’t a stretch for me to believe she could have been groomed by someone she met online and lured to Los Angeles.

The fantasy angle of Dreambound was fantastic. I couldn’t get enough of it. The author used a lot of folklore/myths to create the Hidden World and explain some of what was going on in the real world.

The end of Dreambound seemed almost fever-dreamish. What happened to Byron and what he did was nothing short of heroic for the Hidden World and Earth. I liked that the author had Byron’s story turn out the way it did. After everything that he went through and did, it made sense for what happened. The book section (where Annabelle reads the first chapter of her new book) of the ending was trippy, too. And lastly, what Liza did at the end made me wonder if there will be a book two or another book in this universe.

I would recommend Dreambound for anyone over 16. There is no sex or sexual situations. But there is language and violence.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, NetGalley, and Dan Frey for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Dreambound. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Dreambound, then you will enjoy these:

Other books by Dan Frey

Thank You for Sharing by Rachel Runya Katz

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: September 12th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Jewish, Contemporary, Adult, Fiction, LGBT, Queer, Adult Fiction, New Adult

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Daniel Rosenberg and Liyah Cohen-Jackson’s last conversation—fourteen years ago at summer camp—ended their friendship. Until they find themselves seated next to each other on a plane, and bitterly pick up right where they left off. At least they can go their separate ways again after landing…

That is, until Daniel’s marketing firm gets hired by the Chicago museum where Liyah works as a junior curator, and they’re forced to collaborate with potential career changing promotions on the line.

With every meeting and post-work social gathering with colleagues, the tension (and chemistry) between Daniel and Liyah builds until they’re forced to confront why they broke apart years ago at camp. But as they find comfort in their shared experiences as Jews of color and fumble towards friendship, can they ignore their growing feelings for each other?

With sexy charm and undeniable wit, Rachel Runya Katz’s sparkling debut, Thank You For Sharing, proves that if you’re open to love, anything is possible.

First Line:

“Cohen-Jackson, huh? That’s quite the odd combo.”

Thank You for Sharing by Rachel Runya Katz

Liyah Cohen-Jackson and Daniel Rosenberg hadn’t talked in fourteen years after a disastrous summer camp romance ended. So, imagine Liyah’s surprise when she sits beside Daniel on a flight home from San Fransisco. Thinking the flight will be the last she sees of him, Liyah is surprised when Daniel is the representative chosen to meet with Liyah to help market her new exhibit. Forced to confront what happened in summer camp, Liyah and Daniel discover they have much in common. The more time they spend together, the more their chemistry grows. But will they stay just friends, or will they step towards being something else?

When I read the blurb for Thank You for Sharing, the blurb caught my attention for several reasons. One, because this was the second book that I had read the blurb for that featured the Jewish religion or had references to it, and both main characters were people of color who were Jewish. The other was that it was billed as an LGBTQIA+ book. So, with these reasons in mind, I downloaded Thank You for Sharing. I am glad I did because this was a sweet romance.

The main storyline in Thank You for Sharing centers around Liyah, Daniel, their friends (and their friends were a significant part of the storyline), and their personal/work relationship. The storyline was well written. It kept my attention, and I couldn’t put the book down.

Liyah did a lot of growing up in Thank You for Sharing. In the beginning, she was a stress ball who held on to grudges and slights like they were lifelines. I thought she was immature and obnoxious during her scenes with Daniel. But, the more she interacted with Daniel and the more was revealed about what happened fourteen years ago, I didn’t blame her for being mad. Without giving away spoilers, she was right. Men (and boys) are continually celebrated for stuff like Daniel did, while women (and girls) are shunned and called names. I liked how she dealt with the casual racism and sexism throughout the book. Some scenes (like the one in the Temple) had me steaming. By the end of Thank You for Sharing, I liked her. She had morphed into a strong woman who wasn’t afraid to admit she was wrong.

Daniel was everything that any woman would want in a boyfriend. He liked to talk about his feelings. Daniel supported his partner and wanted the best for her, even if that meant putting himself first. He was in touch with his emotions and wasn’t afraid to cry. Daniel also admitted when he needed help (his mental health suffered a blow after his father died). I did think he was a bit of a sadist for dealing with Liyah. But I also saw that being around her pulled him out of his depression and made him want to be a better man. I also liked his tattoo (the reason behind it was funny).

Mental health is brought up quite a bit throughout Thank You for Sharing. Both Daniel and Liyah see therapists. Daniel starts seeing one to help get over his father’s death. Liyah sees one because of a highly traumatic incident in college and has continued to see her over the years. Both therapists had great advice and let Daniel and Liyah come to terms with their trauma independently. But, I did like that Liyah’s therapist wasn’t afraid to push back at Liyah (the scene after Liyah confesses to Daniel about what happened to her).

The secondary characters made the book. Siobhan, Jordan, Alex, and Neen were excellent. I liked the club they all formed (with Neen being an honorary member). I loved the notes at the end of the “meetings.” They were freaking hilarious. While here, I want to add that I loved Neen. They were the best friend that Liyah needed. They were not afraid to tell it as it was, and they weren’t afraid to force Liyah to face the truth about things (i.e., Daniel).

I liked the romance angle, but it was predictable. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing—sometimes, you need things to be predictable. But I loved reading how the author had Liyah and Daniel go from enemies to lovers. It wasn’t an Instalove situation; instead, it took several months and a couple of profound apologies from Daniel for them to get to that point.

Now, Liyah and Daniel did have some serious chemistry. It was electric, and I was on pins and needles, waiting for them to sleep together. That sex scene was one of the best sex scenes I have read to date. It wasn’t too graphic, and the feeling behind it was chef’s kiss. There were other sex scenes, but they didn’t have the amazingness of the first one.

The end of Thank You for Sharing was your typical HEA. I loved that Neen told Liyah to get over herself. That made for a fantastic makeup scene. I also loved that the author had an epilogue three years in the future.

I would recommend Thank You for Sharing to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Rachel Runya Katz for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Thank You for Sharing. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

In you enjoy reading books similar to Thank You for Sharing, then you will enjoy these:

Fly with Me by Andie Burke

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: September 5th, 2023

Genre: Romance, LGBT, Contemporary, Lesbian, Queer, Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction, Lesbian Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sparkling and steamy opposites-attract romance, Fly with Me by Andie Burke is filled with sharp banter and that sweet, swooping feeling of finding “the one” when and where you least expect it.

A one-way ticket to love or a bumpy ride ahead?

Flying-phobic ER nurse Olive Murphy is still gripping the armrest from her first-ever take-off when the pilot announces an in-flight medical emergency. Olive leaps into action and saves a life, but ends up getting stuck in the airport hours away from the marathon she’s running in honor of her brother. Luckily for her, Stella Soriano, the stunning type A copilot, offers to give her a ride.

After the two spend a magical day together, Stella makes a surprising Will Olive be her fake girlfriend?

A video of Olive saving a life has gone viral and started generating big sales for Stella’s airline. Stella sees their union as the perfect opportunity to get to the boys’ club executives at her company who keep overlooking her for a long-deserved promotion. Realizing this arrangement could help her too, Olive dives into memorizing Stella’s comically comprehensive three-ring-binder guide to fake dating. As the two grow closer, what’s supposed to be a ruse feels more and more real. Could this be the romantic ride of their lives, or an epic crash and burn?

First Line:

“We’re not going to crash.”

Fly with Me by Andie Burke

Never having flown before, Olive is on the verge of a panic attack when a flight attendant makes an announcement asking for a medical professional. An ER nurse, she answers the call and saves the life of a man. When the video starts generating positive press for the airline, the co-piolet, Stella, approaches Olive with an arrangement. Olive is to pretend to be Stella’s girlfriend, and Stella can finally get a promotion. Surprisingly, Olive agrees and dives into Stella’s amusing three-ring binder guide to fake dating. But, as their feeling becomes more and more real, outside forces are trying to derail their romance. Will they have a happily ever after, or will they crash and burn?

When I read the blurb for Fly with Me, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to read it. Since St. Martin’s Press had it as a Read Now book, I downloaded it. I am glad that I did because I loved this book. This book is so much more than what is mentioned in the blurb.

The main storyline of Fly with Me centers around Olive, Stella, and their fake romance. I found that storyline to be amusing and heartbreaking. It was also well-written and kept me glued to the book. I was rooting for Olive and Stella. I wanted them to have their happily ever after.

The storyline with Olive, her family, and their fight over the care of her brother was heartbreaking. Olive’s brother was pronounced brain-dead after saving the life of a child. Olive, a nurse who controls her brother’s finances and medical decisions, had decided to pull life support. But her mother didn’t want it, got a lawyer, and fought to keep her brother alive. Meanwhile, she blasted Olive as someone who only wanted her brother’s money and wanted him to die so she could get it. It caused a massive rift in the family, with everyone agreeing with Olive’s mother. While I sympathized with Olive’s mother, I thought she was a nasty piece of work. There was nothing redeemable about her. As for Olive’s father, I thought that maybe he would be reasonable, but nope, he wasn’t. I was beyond angry at what he requested of Olive at the end of the book. I couldn’t believe what he told her not to do and how he treated her afterward.

The storyline with Olive, Lindsay, their on/off relationship, and Olive’s mental health was interesting. I thought that Lindsay was a piece of work. She was verbally abusive to Olive, and when Olive started fake dating Stella, she became a full-fledged stalker. Lindsay downplayed Olive’s anxiety disorder and her depression. What she said to Stella about them was vile. I should have seen what Lindsay did coming, but I didn’t. I wasn’t surprised, though. There were hints about what she was capable of throughout the book.

The romance angle of Fly with Me was sweet. Both Olive and Stella did not want a relationship. Olive was dealing with a crazy ex (Lindsay), and Stella was so career-driven that she didn’t have time for a relationship. But this book showed that falling in love often happens when people least want or need it. I loved watching their relationship progress. There were roadblocks (a major one at the end of the book), but I liked seeing Olive and Stella work through them.

Olive and Stella had immediate chemistry, which the author built on. So, when they finally had sex, the scene exploded. The author was also very stingy with the sex scenes (there were two detailed scenes).

The end of Fly with Me had me in tears, from everything that Olive had to endure with her family and Lindsay to what happened with her and Stella. I loved that Olive decided to get help with her mental health (minor spoiler here). The epilogue was perfect. The book couldn’t have ended on a better note.

I would recommend Fly with Me to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and graphic sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Andie Burke for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Fly with Me. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Fly with Me, then you will enjoy these books:

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 29th, 2023

Genre: Science Fiction, Fiction, Adult, Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Series: Cygnus Beta Series

The Best of All Possible Worlds—Book 1

The Galaxy Game—Book 2

The Blue, Beautiful World—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

As first contact transforms the Earth, a group of gifted visionaries race to create a new future in this wondrous science fiction novel from the award-winning author of The Best of All Possible Worlds.

The world is changing, and humanity must change with it. Rising seas and soaring temperatures have radically transformed the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, Earth is being observed from afar by other civilizations … and now they are ready to make contact.

Vying to prepare humanity for first contact are a group of dreamers and changemakers, including Peter Hendrix, the genius inventor behind the most advanced VR tech; Charyssa, a beloved celebrity icon with a passion for humanitarian work; and Kanoa, a member of a council of young people from around the globe drafted to reimagine the relationship between humankind and alien societies.

And they may have an unexpected secret weapon: Owen, a pop megastar whose ability to connect with his adoring fans is more than charisma. He has a hidden talent that may be the key to uniting Earth as it looks towards the stars.

But Owen’s abilities are so unique that no-one can control him, and so seductive that he cannot help but use them. Can he transcend his human limitations and find the freedom he has always dreamed of? Or is he doomed to become the dictator of his nightmares?

First Line:

The emissary kept on digging his own grave, centimeter by centimeter, word by word.

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord

First contact has always been something that the people of Earth regarded as a myth. But, to a small, select group, the truth is known. Aliens have been on Earth for a while, gathering intel on the people. With the climate crisis reaching its pinnacle, the aliens have decided to make themselves known. Their emissary is a pop megastar, Owen, who is an alien. Owen has abilities that can unite Earth after first contact. But, there is a dark side to Owen, and it calls to him. Can Owen keep his dark side suppressed to help the people of Earth? Or will that dark side take over and have him become Earth’s dictator?

When I read the blurb for The Blue, Beautiful World, I was intrigued. I like reading science fiction, and seeing that the author would integrate VR technology into the plotline, I wanted to read it. While the book was great in some areas, it was lacking in others, which killed the book for me.

The Blue, Beautiful World is the third book in the Cygnus Beta Series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. You must read the first two books to know what is happening in this one. This was a significant issue for me because I read book three first.

I will be blunt: I was not too fond of this book. I found it very hard to follow at the beginning. But, towards the middle of the book, it got better to follow. Not by much, but I wasn’t as lost as in the book’s first half.

I did like the science fiction angle and loved that the author had VR as a significant part of the plotline. It made for exciting reading, even if it did get dry and repetitive at points. I wish the different civilizations (aliens) were introduced at the book’s beginning. There was a brief rundown (around when the Lyraen spies were caught). But nothing was mentioned about any of the races (and there are a bunch of them).

The characters were meh to me. The only one I connected to and liked was Kanoa. All the others (Owen, Noriko, Berenice) either I didn’t like or weren’t as fleshed out as they should be. I also needed clarification on the different names that the same characters went by. It drove me up the wall to discover that what I thought was a singular main character was exactly two (for example, Tareq is two separate people: Kirat and Siha).

The end of The Blue, Beautiful World was different. I had to reread it twice to understand what was going on. And even then, there is going to be a book 2? I needed clarification on that.

I recommend The Blue, Beautiful World to anyone over 21. There is violence and mild language, but no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, NetGalley, and Karen Lord for allowing me to read and review The Blue, Beautiful World.

If you enjoy reading books similar to The Blue, Beautiful World, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Karen Lord:

One Night by Georgina Cross

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of Publication: August 1st, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Family, Fiction, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

One night. That’s all the time a family has to decide what to do with the man they believe murdered their daughter: Do they forgive him, or take justice into their own hands? An electrifying novel by the author of Nanny Needed. . .

The anonymous letters arrive in the mail, one by one: To find out what really happened to Meghan, meet at this location. Don’t tell anyone you’re coming. In one night, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

Ten years after her murder, the letters tell Meghan’s family exactly when and where to meet: a cliffside home on the Oregon coast. But on the night they’re promised answers, the convicted killer–her high school boyfriend, Cal, who spent only ten years in prison for murder–is found unconscious in his car, slammed into a light pole near the house where the family is sitting and waiting. Is he the one who invited them to gather?

As a storm rampages along the Pacific Northwest, the power cuts off and leaves the family with no chance of returning to the main road and finding help. So they drag Cal back to the house for the remainder of the night. How easy it would be to let him die and claim it was an accident. Or do they help him instead? As the hours tick by, it becomes an excruciating choice. Half of the family wants to kill him. The other half wants him to regain consciousness so he can tell them what he knows.

But if Cal wakes up, he might reveal that someone in the family knows more than they’re letting on. And if that’s the case, who is the real killer? And are they already in the house?

First Line:

It was stupid to walk away. You can’t trust anyone in the dark.

One Night by Georgina Cross

The night Meghan was killed was the night that her family shattered. It fractured even more when her alleged killer, Cal, was released from jail after only serving ten years. Her entire family is invited to a beach house on the Oregon shore two years later. As tensions rise inside, a massive storm rampages outside. When Cal is found injured and unconscious in his car, the family moves him inside. Half of the people there want to kill him, and the other half want to keep him alive so he can tell them what he knows. But someone in that group is hiding a secret. A secret so big that it could destroy them and the other family members. Did Cal kill Meghan? If he didn’t, who did? Will Cal survive the night? Will he tell people what he knows?

I have read a lot of mysteries lately. That is a good thing; I enjoy a good mystery, and the mystery angle initially attracted me to this book. I figured that I would like this book. I hate to say it, but I was “meh” about One Night.

One Night is a fast-paced book in the tourist town of Bandon, Oregon. The storyline did suit the pacing, but there was a lag in the middle and end of the book.

There were two main storylines in One Night. The first was Meghan’s murder, who did it, why, and how Cal fit into it. The second storyline centers around Meghan’s family, the house, the storm, and Cal. While both storylines were well written, I was more interested in the first storyline. The second storyline should have held my attention.

The storyline with Meghan, her murder, who did it, why, and how Cal fit into it was very twisty. I didn’t like Meghan. She was dishonest and abusive and had her mother wrapped around her little finger (I will get more into her mother later). The details of her murder, though, weren’t revealed until the very end. While I did have the correct people involved, I didn’t have the timeline right. So, I was surprised when the murderer was revealed.

The storyline with Meghan’s family, the aftermath, the invite to the house, the storm, and how Cal fit into everything was strange and often didn’t make sense. In this storyline, I did figure out who invited everyone to the house (it was very apparent, and the person did make some telling statements with the magazines). The storm was just the backdrop to a surreal and strange situation that started unfolding in the house. When Cal showed up, I wasn’t surprised who wanted to kill him. By the end of the book, I was sick of everyone in this storyline, and I couldn’t wait for it to be done.

I wouldn’t say I liked any of the characters. Except for Sam and Cal, they all got on my one last nerve.

I liked the book’s mystery angle, and it was well-written. As I stated above, I did think I had figured out who killed Meghan, but I was surprised at how it ended. I also did figure out who sent the invites out. But, the reason why surprised me.

The end of One Night was confusing. The author ended the present-day storyline in a way that I did not like. I agreed with Cal’s statement.

I would recommend One Night to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations, but there is violence and language.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, and Georgina Cross for allowing me to read and review One Night. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to One Night, then you will enjoy these:

Other books by Georgina Cross: