Dream Watcher (Dream Runners: Book 3) by Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: March 1st, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Series: Dream Runners

Dream Shatter—Book 1 (review here)

Dream Runner—Book 2 (review here)

Dream Watcher—Book 3

Dream Giver—Book 4

Dream Rising—Book 5

Dream Legacy—Book 6

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Logan Kent knows too much.

He knows his idyllic life in The Capitol is a lie. He knows a secret society is pulling the strings of their puppet government. And worst of all, he knows they built their utopia upon the stolen dreams of its citizens.

When the rebel faction, Anyone, rises up against The Capitol, Logan escapes The Circle and runs away with Reina, the rebel medicine thief who helped him see behind The Capitol’s lies. But having reached Anyone’s last free base in the country, Logan realizes what he knows is a weapon.

Anyone will use what Logan knows to bring The Circle to its knees. And his biological mother is at the heart of Anyone’s council.

Having a choice is what Anyone has been fighting for. Why they’ve wanted to free others. Free agency is worth dying for; but to Logan, going back across the arid Expanse and Heartlands feels like a suicide mission.

What choice does he have other than to betray his friends and the freedom of every citizen back home?

Fans of The Matrix, Inception, and The Giver have been dreaming of this series for a long time coming.

First Line:

Naressa is my mother.

Dream Watcher by Anne Hunter

Logan Kent has finally reached Base Nain with Reina. But Reina, gravely injured after an attack by The Capitol’s Army, is taken to the hospital to recover. With his knowledge of what The Circle is doing to its citizens, Logan realizes that what he knows could free The Capitol from The Circle. Given a choice of remaining with the Anyone faction and risking a massacre of its people or going home and using his knowledge to help Anyone expose The Circle, Logan chooses to go home. But going home will have risks, and Logan knows what they are. Can Logan accomplish what Anyone wants him to do? Or will everything he risked be for nothing?

I am deeply involved in this series, you all. I figured my enjoyment of it would wear off after book three, but it hasn’t. The author has done a great job hooking me and keeping me hooked on this series.

As with the last review, Dream Runner has some trigger warnings. They are assault, body horror, and torture. Logan witnesses the king of the Duners brutally assault his right-hand man for Reina’s attempted rape. The king has injuries replaced with cybergenetic parts (his eye changes color with his mood). The Duner who tried to rape Reina is chained to the wreckage of his bike and is refused water. Logan tries to give him some, and another Duner stops him, explaining that he knowingly broke the rules and will suffer the consequences. The Duner king also assaults Logan to make it look like he was tortured while he was gone.

Dream Watcher is the 3rd book in the Dream Runners series. You need to read the first two books to understand what is happening in this one. In other words, you cannot read this book as a standalone. You will be confused (even with the author’s brief rundown at the beginning).

Dream Watcher’s storyline centers around Logan, Anyone, and what This book has a twisty plotline that kept me glued to my Kindle. I did not know what each chapter would hold.

The storyline with Logan, Anyone, and what he knows is twisty. I get why Logan ultimately did what he did: he didn’t want any more people to die because of him. But I wish that I didn’t get the sense that his biological mother was subtly pushing him towards going home. Something about her didn’t sit right with me. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked how Logan was treated when he returned to The Capitol.

I felt so bad for Logan throughout this book. He had one bombshell after another dropped on him. Finding out that Naressa wasn’t his mother. Finding out that Elehnya is his mother and that she got chipped to keep him safe. Finding out that he isn’t chipped. Finding out that Elehnya did something to him so she could speak in his mind. Discovering that Elehyna is the head of Anyone’s council. Realizing that he was in love with Reina. Going home. It was a whirlwind, and even I got dizzy reading it. I thought to myself that the kid needed a break. He needed something good to happen to him. Even when he got back home, he was traumatized.

Reina wasn’t featured much in this book. She was dealing with severe blaster injuries, a dislocated arm, and trauma from nearly being raped. So, the author gave her some time to recoup. She does pop up toward the end of the book, but not how I wanted her to.

The end of Dream Watcher was jaw-dropping. I did not expect what happened to happen. My mouth dropped open, and a “No way” was said. I had to reread what was written because of what happened. Of course, it ended on a cliffhanger, but it was a good cliffhanger this time.

I would recommend Dream Watcher to anyone over 16. There is violence and language. There is no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Ann Hunter for allowing me to read and review Dream Watcher. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Dream Watcher, check these out:

Other books by Ann Hunter:

Blind Fear (Finn Thrillers: Book 3) by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: July 11th, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Suspense, Crime

Series: Finn Thrillers

Steel Fear—Book 1 (review here)

Cold Fear—Book 2

Blind Fear—Book 3

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Haunted by the death of his best friend and hunted by the FBI for war crimes he didn’t commit, Finn lands on an island paradise that turns into his own personal hell in this gripping follow-up to Steel Fear and Cold Fear —from the New York Times bestselling writing team Webb & Mann . . .

“Webb & Mann have done it again. Blind Fear has it great characters, an amazing plot, and an incredible setting. This novel moves like a hurricane!”—Connor Sullivan, author of Wolf Trap

By day, AWOL Navy SEAL Finn is hiding out on Vieques, a tiny island paradise off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, living in a spare room behind a seafood restaurant owned by a blind local. By night he scours the dark web, hunting for the rogue officer responsible for the crimes he is accused of committing.

But Finn’s world is about to be turned upside down by a new nightmare, when his employer’s two grandchildren go missing. To find them, he’ll have to infiltrate the island’s dangerous criminal underbelly and expose a shadowy crime network known as La Empresa—even if it means exposing himself in the process.

As the children go on their own harrowing odyssey to stay one step ahead of a cop-turned-killer, a hurricane batters the coastline, cutting Puerto Rico off from the rest of the world. Taking his pursuit to the sea, Finn’s skills and endurance will be tested to their limits to rescue the lost children and escape his own pursuers before the clock runs out. No one is to be trusted. And those who are seemingly his friends might be the most dangerous foes he’s faced yet.

First Line:

They have been out there for hours, climbing the great rock cliffs overlooking Black Sand Beach, then down by the water, poking through the shells and driftwood left by the ebbing tide, cooling off in the sky-blue sea as they drift toward the western tip of their island home.

Blind Fear by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

After fleeing Iceland, Finn settled on a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Living in a spare room behind a seafood restaurant, Finn spends his days helping the blind owner and his nights on the dark web, looking for clues to the identity of the man responsible for the crimes Finn is accused of committing. But that changes when two things happen. The restaurant owner’s grandchildren go missing, and a hurricane is barreling toward the island. Desperate to find the children, Finn must take down a criminal empire called La Empresa and risk exposing himself. But can Finn trust his friends? Or will they be the people who will turn him in?

Blind Fear is a fast-paced book that doesn’t let up on its pace during the book. There was almost no lag (a tiny bit in the middle of the book). That did not distract me from the storyline.

There were three separate storylines in Blind Fear. The first storyline follows the children (Pedro and Miranda), their kidnapping, and their journey across the jungles of Puerto Rico. The second storyline is centered around Finn, his search for the children, and his search for the killer of his friends. The third storyline centers around Monica Halsey and her search for Finn. When I realized that there were three different storylines, I got worried. Usually, one overshadows the other storylines. But this wasn’t the case. Each storyline was well-written, with well-fleshed-out characters. By the time the three storylines came together, they merged seamlessly.

The storyline with the children was well-written and kept me glued to the book. Pedro was a likable kid who kept Miranda, who was younger, safe. He had to make adult choices, some of which weren’t right. But everything Pedro did was to save his and Miranda’s life. He was also very confident that Mimo (Finn) would rescue them.

The storyline with Finn is ongoing, carried over from Steel Fear. I did not read book 2, so I didn’t understand the references to Iceland or what happened there. The author explained what happened later in the book but didn’t detract from this storyline. I liked how Finn juggled four things:

  • Finding Pedro and Miranda.
  • Finding out who Papa Bear was.
  • Staying ahead of the agents.
  • Exposing La Empresa.

In my experience, something gets dropped or forgotten when a main character has a lot going on. But, in this case, it didn’t happen. The author slowly merged each thing until they were a singular entity.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to classify the storyline with Monica as one of the main storylines. But, as I read the book, the more she came into play, I decided that the storyline was the main one. Monica was different than how she was featured in the first book. She had it out for Finn. She wanted him to serve time for what she thought he did.

The end of Blind Fear was terrific. The authors wrapped up the Puerto Rican storylines in a fantastic way. I loved how every single bad guy got what they deserved. Both Finn and Monica’s storylines were not wrapped up. What the author did instead was a perfect lead into book 4.

I would recommend Blind Fear to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations but extreme violence and language.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, Brandon Webb, and John David Mann for allowing me to read and review Blind Fear. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Blind Fear, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Brandon Webb

Other books by John David Mann

Playing with Fire (A Carrie and Keith Mystery: Book 3) by Flora McGowan


Date of publication: August 4th, 2020

Genre: Mystery, Romance, Cozy Mystery

Series: A Carrie and Keith Mystery

Material Witness—Book 1

Thirteen in the Medina—Book 2

Playing with Fire—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a prequel to ‘Material Witness’ and ‘Thirteen in the Medina,’ it’s the summer before she met Keith and Carrie’s holiday plans have been thrown into disarray by the political climate.
She ends up taking a trip to Sicily where she meets octogenarian Millie and a local Sicilian, Enzo.
Enzo appears to be following Carrie as she tours around the island; is he smitten, as Millie maintains, or does he have criminal intentions, as suggested by another of her fellow travellers?
And if so, is he responsible for a series of antiquities’ burglaries?
Or is he on the hunt for Excalibur, the legendary sword rumoured to be lost in Sicily, a sword forged by the ancient Roman blacksmith, Vulcan, god of fire?
Carrie and Millie decide to investigate, but their amusement palls when the adventure takes an unpleasant turn as someone, it seems, is playing with fire.

First Line:

The house was located in the midst of Lazio in central Italy, a region containing not only the country’s capital, Rome, with its ancient Forum, the Coliseum, and the more recent Baroque additions of the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps but also the Vatican, the spiritual and physical heart of the Roman Catholic Church; while of the coast sits Ostia with its ancient port.

Playing with Fire by Flora McGowan

Carrie had been planning on traveling to the Middle East when she was forced to look elsewhere to travel because of political unrest in the area. She decided to take a guided tour of Sicily. But her trip wasn’t the laid-back vacation she expected. Instead, she was pursued by a local named Enzo while ushering a King Author obsessed older woman around the island, all while trying to enjoy the island’s history. But, a string of burglaries throws a shadow over the tour. Who is robbing the museums and why?

When I read the blurb for Playing With Fire, I knew I needed to read this book. Not only does it take place in Italy, which is high on my list of places to visit, but it also offers an exciting view of where Excalibur and Camelot were compared to the legend. I am glad that I read this book because it was good. Plus, I loved reading the historical tidbits thrown throughout the book.

Playing With Fire started slowly and took a while to build up pace. But, once it got going, it flowed nicely. The book maintained a medium pace from the middle of the book to the end, which surprised me. I am used to mysteries having a more brisk pace. I liked it because it allowed me to process the information given.

Playing With Fire takes place entirely on the island of Sicily. I loved the author’s visuals of each town and the historical areas Carrie toured. I also liked the smattering of Italian given in the book.

The main storyline of Playing With Fire centers around Carrie, the tour, Enzo, and the burglaries. As I stated above, the book started slow. But, as Carrie traveled around Sicily and the mystery of Enzo/the art thefts deepened, the storyline gradually increased. This storyline was well-written and well-researched storyline. The author did not lose my attention for a moment.

I liked Carrie and admired her for traveling alone. I also liked that she gravitated toward people similar to her (her travel buddies). Millie and Joan were perfect for her. Vanessa, on the other hand, was not. She also had a good head on her shoulders and used it wisely during the book. Her instincts about Enzo and Vanessa were right on, well, for the most part.

The mystery angle of Playing With Fire was a slow burn. I wondered who the thief was. The author did use red herrings and misdirection to keep me from guessing. So, when the thief was revealed, I was shocked. Put it this way, that person was not on my radar.

There was a slight romance angle in Playing With Fire. The author kept it in the background and was brought up occasionally. But I wasn’t surprised at how it played out.

I want to mention King Arthur/Excalibur/Sicily’s history storyline. It was well-researched. I liked that the author threw some doubt as to where King Arthur was buried. I also liked that some of the mystery centered around Excalibur. And the history of Sicily was fascinating.

The end of Playing With Fire was standard. The author was able to wrap up the mystery in a way that satisfied me. I also liked how the author ended the romance storyline.

I recommend Playing With Fire to anyone over 16. There is no language, mild violence, and no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Flora McGowan for allowing me to read and review Playing With Fire. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Playing With Fire, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Flora McGowan

How to Best a Marquess (The Widow Rules: Book 3) by Janna MacGregor

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

Date of publication: April 25th, 2023

Genre: Historical Romance, Romance, Historical, Regency Romance, Adventure

Trigger Warnings: Bigamy (off page and remembered), Sexism, Misgony

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1 (review here)

Rules for Engaging the Earl—Book 2 (review here)

How to Best a Marquess—Book 3

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Beth Howell needs to find her dowry, post haste. After her good-for-nothing first husband married her―and two other women, unbeknownst to them all―she’s left financially ruined and relegated to living with her brother, who cares more for his horses than he does his blood relatives. If Beth fails to acquire her funds, her brother will force her to marry someone fifty years her senior and missing half his teeth. She’d prefer to avoid that dreadful fate. But her now-deceased husband, Meri, absconded with her money mere days after their illegitimate marriage. To find it, Beth will have to leave town and retrace Meri’s steps if she’s to take her future into her own hands.

Julian Raleah, Marquess of Grayson, cares not a whit for social norms and generally growls at anyone in his path. Grayson has had a heart of stone ever since his engagement to Beth Howell went down in flames―long before she married that cad, Meri, and sealed her own fate for good. But now she’s on his doorstep, asking for use of his carriage and accompaniment on the hunt to find her lost dowry. Surely Grayson cannot go on the road with the woman who has occupied his thoughts for the past decade. Yet, knowing she needs him, how can he resist helping her this one last time? And maybe that’s just enough time to change the ending to their over-too-soon love story.

First Line:

The last notes of the supper waltz hung suspended in the air much like Miss Beth Howell’s heart. In that moment, everything stopped. No one moved.

How to Best a Marquess by Janna MacGregor

Miss Beth Howell is on a mission. She is determined to get her dowery back from wherever her deceased husband had hidden it. But, it will be a challenge with a brother determined to marry her to a gentleman fifty years her senior and who cares more about keeping up appearances than his sister. With nowhere else to turn, Beth decides to enlist the help of her first love, Julian Raleah, the Marquess of Grayson. Julian is hesitant to help Beth, not because of her reputation (being married to a bigamist will ruin a girl) but because he has loved her since he first saw her ten years ago. After deciding to help her, Julian and Beth are on an adventure. But, they both must be careful because feelings they have been denying are simmering just under the surface. Will Beth find her dowery? Will they give in to their feelings for each other?

I was so flipping happy and a little sad when I realized this book was getting ready to be published. I enjoy reading Janna MacGregor’s historical romances; this particular trilogy had my attention from the beginning. I was sad because the trilogy was ending. I enjoyed reading about wife one and wife two getting their happy ending and wondered when Beth would get hers. Out of the three, I felt that she deserved it the most.

I put down that there are trigger warnings in this book. I was on the fence about even putting them up, but I decided to do. So, here they are:

  1. Bigamy: Beth’s deceased husband married three women around the same time. They only found out about each other when his will was read. Beth mostly remembers Meri with a sense of sarcasm and exasperation, with some anger thrown in (she’s better than me).
  2. Sexism: This is Regency England, and men ruled the roost back then. Women were kept to the background and not allowed to make decisions independently. Their fathers (or male guardians) would secure marriages for them (which is what Beth’s brother, St. John, was doing at the beginning of the book).
  3. Misgony: Several men in the book looked down on women. Most notable were St. John and his friends. I wasn’t shocked by this because it did keep with the time (Regency England).

If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book.

The main storyline in How to Best a Marquess was Beth’s quest to discover what Meri did with her dowery, her relationship (past and present) with Julian, and their love story. It was a well-written storyline that didn’t fail to capture my attention. I did not find myself wanting to put my Kindle down. Instead, I was glued to it. I was rooting (and hoping) for Beth to find her dowery. I also hoped for her and Julian’s relationship to rekindle faster than it did. Not complaining, but the sparks were there from the beginning, and I got antsy with the build-up.

I felt Beth was the strongest of the three women in this trilogy. She lost everything when it came out what Meri did. She was shunned (and ridiculed) by the Polite Society. There was a point in the book where I thought maybe it was in her head, but nope, it wasn’t. She was treated poorly by her brother’s friend’s sisters and then again by the wife of someone Julian was hoping to connect with. I was a little irritated by that. The women (again, mainly Beth) were held accountable for what Meri did. Did she know that he married two other women? Nope, yet people were quick to point fingers at her. And if he were still alive, his friends would have celebrated it. It still makes me irritated even thinking about it.

I loved Julian and was horrified by how St. John treated him ten years ago. He was laughed out of the house when he asked for Beth’s hand in marriage. Why? Because Julian had no money. He was a poor Marquess. So Julian left and worked to rebuild his fortune by becoming a man of science (i.e., engineering, but it wasn’t called that back then). He still had feelings for Beth, and it was those feelings that led him to accompany her on her journey. I loved how Julian stood up to people when they put her down. He didn’t even hesitate and immediately put people in their places. On that alone, Julian was in my good graces. But he also gave Beth her space. Julian knew Meri had damaged her, and she needed time to get over things. He would let her go even if that meant breaking his heart.

The characters from book one and book two did make an appearance throughout How to Best a Marquess. There was also a Duke who kept appearing, that piqued my interest. I hope the author either does a series with him in it or a standalone book.

The sex scenes in How to Best a Marquess was hot. Once Julian and Beth decided to sleep with each other, it was terrific. I mentioned above how I was antsy with the build-up. Well, they didn’t sleep together until almost halfway through the book. The sex was also graphic. Again, I didn’t mind it and felt it added to Julian and Beth’s relationship.

The end of How to Best a Marquess was a whirlwind. Everything happened simultaneously, and I had an issue processing it. I had to reread the ending chapters several times to understand what happened. Of course, my failure to process could have been due to a lack of sleep (I stayed up late to read this book). My favorite part about the ending was the epilogue. I liked seeing where everyone was a year from when the book ended.

I recommend How to Best a Marquess to anyone over 21. There is mild violence and sexual situations but no language. Also, see my trigger warning list.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, NetGalley, and Janna MacGregor for allowing me to read and review How to Best a Marquess. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of How to Best a Marquess, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other Books by Janna MacGregor

No Time to Breathe (Lisa Jamison: Book 3) by Lori Duffy Foster

4 Stars

Publisher: Level Best Books, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Member’s Titles

Date of publication: April 11th, 2023

Genre: Mystery

Trigger Warning: Murder

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1 (review here)

Never Broken—Book 2 (review here)

No Time to Breathe—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Journalist Lisa Jamison wants to blow off some steam after an argument with her boyfriend, so she heads to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio for an early morning workout. She expects to find Ricky alone, setting up for his first class of the day, but someone was there before Lisa, uninvited. Ricky is dead, shot only moments before she arrived, and now Lisa is a suspect in his murder. Lisa wants two things: to clear her name and seek justice for Ricky. But the deeper she digs, the more the danger mounts. Can she find Ricky’s killer before the killer eliminates the last obstacle, silencing Lisa for good?

First Line:

Three days ago, the sidewalks of Seneca Springs were covered in a thick blanket of fresh, wet snow.

No Time to Breathe by Lori Duffy Foster

No Time to Breathe takes place a year or so after the events of Never Broken. Lisa is still working at the paper, but layoffs and cutbacks threaten her job. She also lives with her boyfriend, whom she met during her investigation in Never Broken. An argument with her boyfriend sends Lisa on a jog, leading her to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio, where Lisa plans to blow off some steam. But Lisa wasn’t expecting to find Ricky dying of a gunshot wound as soon as she walked in. Lisa also wasn’t expecting the police to make her their main suspect. Lisa decides that she needs to do two things: clear her name and find Ricky’s killer. But Lisa is running against the clock because whoever killed Ricky has her next on their list, and they won’t stop until Lisa dies. Can Lisa find the killer before they kill her? What is the motive behind Ricky’s murder?

No Time to Breathe is book 3 in the Lisa Jamison series. While readers can read this book as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the first two books to understand the backstories and relationships shown in the book.

No Time to Breathe is a fast-paced book in Seneca Springs, New York. The book lagged slightly in the middle (when Lisa was juggling everything), but the author got the book back on track.

The main storyline in No Time to Breathe is Ricky’s murder, Lisa’s investigation, and her being a suspect. I was a little irritated at how the police handled his murder. Until the FBI got involved, they were content to pin the murder on Lisa, even though she didn’t have her gun on her (she locked it at home), and some people backed her up on where she was right before the murder. The investigating officer was a jerk to her and didn’t take her seriously. He was a smug idiot when he dropped the fact that she was having an affair with Ricky (she wasn’t), and he wasn’t willing to listen to her. It took two attempts on her life, one which almost killed her, and the FBI getting involved for Officer Jerk to take his laser focus off Lisa and look at the evidence she gathered (and there was quite a bit). Once that happened, the storyline smoothed out, and things went as I thought they would. But still, that officer (well, Detective) was an idiot.

There were a couple of secondary storylines that supported the main storyline perfectly. The one that caught my attention was the storyline with her boyfriend, his ex-partner, her and her boyfriend’s relationship, and the relationship he had with his ex-partner. I enjoyed that Lisa and Patrick didn’t have a lovey-dovey relationship. They had issues (mainly due to a lack of time spent with each other), but they were working through them. And when Gloria appeared back in their lives, Lisa wasn’t thrilled about it. Neither was Patrick, but he didn’t share that with Lisa. I thought it would be the making of a messy love triangle, but then the author spun that around and ended that idea pretty fast.

I loved Lisa in this book. Not only was she going to solve Ricky’s murder (and shove it in Officer Jerk’s face), but she was going to keep herself out of jail. I will admit, I was scared for her towards the end of the book (how many times can one be hurt?) Her toughness shone throughout the book. Besides being tough, she was a great friend, and the author showcased it in the book’s last chapter.

The mystery/thriller/suspense angles of No Time to Breathe were terrific. The author did a great job weaving a suspenseful plot that kept me glued to the book. And the mystery angle was excellent, also. I honestly couldn’t figure out who killed Ricky and why. I did figure out a tiny part, but the whole picture was so much more than that. I didn’t see the twist in the plotline, and it left me shaking my head. Mainly because I thought the person behind the killings was already in jail (a tiny spoiler from Book 2). But the biggest twist came with what Lisa decided to do at the end of the book. Again, I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go in that direction, but now that I read it, I can see why the author wanted her to do that.

The end of No Time to Breathe was action-packed and kept me glued to the book (and yes, I know I repeated myself). Again repeating myself, but I was not expecting who the killer was or the reasons behind it. The author did wrap those storylines up, and I cannot wait to read book 4!!

I would recommend No Time to Breathe to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and mild sexual situations.

Many thanks to Level Best Books, IBPA, Member’s Titles, NetGalley, and Lori Duffy Foster for allowing me to read and review No Time to Breathe. Any opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of No Time to Breathe, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Lori Duffy Foster

Read to Death at the Lakeside Library (Lakeside Library Mystery: Book 3) by Holly Danvers

Stars: 3

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Date of publication: August 8th, 2023

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Mystery

Series: Lakeside Library Mystery

Murder at the Lakeside Library—Book 1

Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library—Book 2

Read to Death at the Lakeside Library—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Ellery Adams, Rain Wilmot must find a novel solution in order to catch another killer—before her book club members are picked off one by one.

Summer is in full swing as tourists flock back to the Northwoods and travel to Lofty Pines, Wisconsin. For Rain Wilmot, owner of the Lakeside Library, this is the perfect opportunity to bring back her mother’s summer book club. But the summer sun starts to really heat up when one of the club’s members, Lily Redlin, is found dead in her own home not long after the first meeting.

Alongside her sidekick and neighbor Julia Reynolds and the charming Jace Lowe, Rain discovers that the murder is seemingly inspired by the book club’s recent selection of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel, Sparkling Cyanide. But who would kill Lily, and more importantly, why?
The deeper Rain goes into the story, the more confusing and complicated the plot becomes. Was Lily murdered to cover up a tragic accident involving an old classmate years earlier? Or were the rumors true—did Lily really possess priceless original Laura Ingles Wilder manuscripts, and someone killed her for them? And who stands to gain the recently inherited piece of waterfront property that Lily received from a long-lost relative?

With a long list of suspects and motives, Rain realizes that all leads come back to people involved in the book club. Rain and her friends take a page from Agatha Christie’s book by hosting a reenactment of the club’s first meeting to flush out the killer. Will Rain’s plan succeed—or will this librarian’s book be checked out for good?

First Line:

Rain Wilmot stepped from the log cabin and was immediately met with golden sunshine.

Read to Death at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers

Rain decided that summer was the perfect time to return her mother’s book club to the library. The first book was Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie. After things got a little heated with a new member, Lily, during the meeting. Concerned, Rain and her best friend track Julia to her house and find Lily dead. With few leads, Rain and Julia start their investigation. Everything points back to who was at the book club that night. Who killed Lily? And what was the motive?

I decided to read more cozy mysteries a few months back. I love reading mysteries but tend to read psychological mysteries (usually paired with psychological thrillers) or police procedurals. So I downloaded a few from a publisher I occasionally review for. Read to Death at the Lakeside Library is the first book out of the five that I downloaded.

Read to Death at the Lakeside Library is the third book in the Lakeside Library Mysteries. When I started reading this book, I was expecting this book to confuse me. Beginning a series on book three isn’t ideal for me. Why? The storylines are usually harder to follow, and the characters from previous books appear. I am happy to say that it wasn’t true in this case. The author briefly references the previous two books but focuses on this book’s storyline. Readers can read this book as a standalone, but I recommend reading the earlier books for more of Rain’s back story.

I liked Rain. She had a rough couple of years, from what was revealed. I also liked that she was a good friend. My only quibble with her is that when she found clues (like the book or the notes), she didn’t go to the police immediately (and I will go further into that). I also loved that she owned a library and put her heart and soul into it!!

I found Julia annoying throughout the book. She wasn’t afraid to lean on her brother, a detective on the local police force, for information. She also didn’t hesitate to hide or tell Rain to hide evidence. It drove me nuts. But I did think she was a good friend. Rain was Julia’s best friend, and she wouldn’t let her investigate Lily’s death alone.

The main storyline is Rain investigating Julia’s death. I loved that the author modeled her death after Agatha Christie’s book and a recent real-life murder involving eyedrops. But I was slightly irritated by how Rain and Julia conducted their investigation (and the second investigation into Patrick’s death). They broke into houses (Lily’s), they stole evidence (the manuscript and the cassette tape), Julia leaned on Jace (her brother) for information about the case, and they withheld evidence from the police. I kept thinking that the evidence they collected would never be allowed in court because of that. I was surprised at who the killer was, though. It was not even remotely who I thought it was.

There was a secondary storyline that Rain and Julia were investigating. It involved a woman from their book club, the death of her classmate decades earlier, and the murder victim. How they were tied together made for a neat twist.

There was a romance angle to Read to Death at the Lakeside Library. I gathered that this romance started in book one, but they didn’t get together until this book. Rain was too busy investigating Lily’s murder and getting into shenanigans with Julia for it to go beyond that. This is a clean romance with a few kissing scenes.

The end of Read to Death at the Lakeside Library was action-packed. I was not expecting who the killer was. And I wasn’t expecting this person’s motives (yes, there are two). As much as Rain and Julia annoyed me, I look forward to reading book 3.

I recommend Read to Death at the Lakeside Library to anyone over 16. There is mild language and mild sexual scenes. There is also violence.

Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Holly Danvers for allowing me to read and review Read to Death at the Lakeside Library. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Read to Death at the Lakeside Library, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Holly Danvers:

A Guide to Being Just Friends (Jansen Brothers: Book 3) by Sophie Sullivan

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

Date of publication: January 17th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Adult, Fiction, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Audiobook, Adult Fiction, Clean Romance

Series: Jansen Brothers

Ten Rules for Faking It—Book 1

How to Love Your Neighbor—Book 2 (review here)

A Guide to Being Just Friends—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A playful and emotional romantic comedy from the author of Ten Rules for Faking It

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

First Line:

Salad paid the bills. At least, it was supposed to.

A Guid to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan

I’ll admit this; I didn’t read the blurb when I accepted the invite from St. Martin’s Press. I saw the title and the cover (in the widget email they sent) and made my decision from that. To be clear, I rarely accept books based on the title and/or cover. So, I was a little hesitant when I saw it next on my reading schedule. But, once I realized what series this book was a part of, I was excited to read it.

A Guide to Being Just Friends is the 3rd (and final) book in the Jansen Brothers series. While readers can read this as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books before picking this one up. I recommend this so you, as a reader, can understand some of the relationships discussed in this book.

There are some trigger warnings that I want to warn you about in this book. Hailey (the main character) is fresh out of an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. In one scene, her ex tries (and stress tries) to verbally abuse and manhandle her, but Wes stops it. Wes’s parents are divorced, and Hailey’s family is dysfunctional (her parents love each other and ignore her). If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

A Guide to Being Just Friends is a medium to fast-paced book that takes place entirely in San Verde, California. The pacing of the book fluctuates during it.

As mentioned above, A Guide to Being Just Friends is Wes and Hailey’s love story. Hailey has just opened a restaurant that only serves salad (By the Cup) and is focused only on getting it off the ground and making money. She has no room for a relationship or wants one after what her ex-boyfriend has done to her. Wes couldn’t agree more with her. He is still dealing with the wounds of his parent’s divorce and has been on several not-so-great first dates. All he wants is companionship. So meeting Hailey and developing feelings for her was not part of his master plan (the same goes for Hailey). While being in a relationship is not in the cards for either of them, they will settle for being just friends. But their feelings grow, and being just friends is starting to sound not so great. Will Hailey and Wes wake up and see that the person they want the most is standing in front of them? Or will they forever be just friends?

I like going into a book and knowing at least one of the characters. For me (and I don’t know about you), it made connecting with the other main characters easier. I also liked seeing a different side of that character than what was portrayed in other books.

  • Hailey: I liked her. She was super focused on getting her business off the ground and wouldn’t let anything or anyone distract her. She was also one of the sweetest people in the book and didn’t deserve the treatment she got from her parents, ex-boyfriend, and Ana. I also liked that she overcame all the self-doubt and self-esteem issues that her ex gave her. Of course, since this is a romance, I wanted to shake her when it came to Wes. But I understood why she was holding herself back.
  • Wes—I was talking about him in the above paragraph. I liked seeing little glimpses of him in the previous two books. I did have a view of him from what I read. So it was nice for that view to be expanded and for how he acted explained. Wes had a lot on his plate, a lot of pressure from his father and Ana (the CEO of a company he’s trying to buy). Plus, he had awful luck on the relationship front. The blind dates the author showed were horrible. I did like his character growth, though. By the end of the book, he wasn’t afraid to do what was right for him (and yes, that involved Ana and her meddling ways!!)

The secondary characters were interesting. They should be since they were all previous characters in the other two books. A couple of new characters were introduced (Hailey’s cousin and her group of friends), and I hope the author decides to create another series in this world. I would love to see some of those people get their HEAs!!

A Guide to Being Just Friends fits perfectly into the romance genre. I liked that this romance took months to ignite and just as long to get off the ground. I love those types of romances. They seem more genuine, and (because I am a weirdo) I can picture them lasting in real life.

There is sex in A Guide to Being Just Friends. But it isn’t graphic. The author sets the mood, starts the sexual encounter, and ends the chapter. The next chapter is the following day with a satisfied hero and heroine. I am a fan of smut and graphic sex scenes, but sometimes it is nice to let my imagination do what it does best. And it did its best in this book. Also, there were only a couple of sex scenes.

The main storyline is Wes and Hailey’s romance. As I said, the author made this into a slow-burn romance, and I liked it. She also made it as realistic as possible. Hailey and Wes went through what I considered the usual ebb and flow until everything exploded. There was only one thing that I disagreed with: Ana. She was a vindictive, nasty person. What she did to Hailey (and let’s not forget what she tried to do) was pretty low.

Several secondary storylines enriched the main storyline. The secondary storyline that stands out to me the most was the landlord raising the rent on the apartments and shops where Hailey had her business. I loved how the author kept me wondering what would happen there and then melded it into the main storyline. It was perfect!!

The end of A Guide to Being Just Friends made me an emotional mess. I cried during the big reveal scene. I was mad because of what Hailey assumed was happening between Ana and Wes. I was happy because that assumption wasn’t true. And the epilogue. It was freaking perfect!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better epilogue than that.

I would recommend A Guide to Being Just Friends to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and very mild sex scenes. Also, see my content warning above.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Sophie Sullivan for allowing me to read and review A Guide to Being Just Friends. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading A Guide to Being Just Friends, then you will enjoy reading these books:

A Body Washes Ashore (Spectrum Series: Book 3) by Bradley Pay

Publisher: Bradley Pay

Date of publication: October 30th, 2022

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Romance

Series: Spectrum Series

The Killings Begin—Book 1 (review here)

Death in a Dark Alley—Book 2 (review here)

A Body Washes Ashore—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A Body Washes Ashore is the heart-racing sequel to The Killings Begin and Death in a Dark Alley that you’ve been waiting for. Bradley Pay’s signature blend of contemporary romance and psychological suspense will sweep you off your feet and into the thick of mortal danger. Tour Europe with Tracey’s new friend, Remy Martin, as she risks everything for the rush of true love.

Tracey’s new group of friends seems perfect. For as long as he could remember, he felt like an outsider, struggling to make connections, and living as an unknown serial killer certainly didn’t help. Now he and his new wife have discovered a circle of friends that begins to fill his need for close relationships. He’s one step closer to living a “normal” life despite the persistent cold-case investigators who refuse to ignore his murderous past in the US.

Remy Martin, a renowned professor of art history and one of Tracey’s new friends, also bears scars on her damaged heart. She has vowed to only sleep with married men to protect herself from heartbreak. However, the stakes rise when she breaks her biggest rule and takes things too far. But how can she resist? She never meant to fall in love or hurt anyone. Just like Tracey, though, she can’t erase her past. She must deal with the consequences of her affair, whatever the cost.

Don’t miss this landmark installation in the Spectrum Series saga, complete with the complex characters you love and a new romance you’ll never forget.

First Line:

Edgar pushed his new rimless glasses up on his nose.

A Body Washes Ashore by Bradley Pay

I know I have previously mentioned that I don’t read enough mysteries. Well, after I had made that statement, I went on a mystery reading binge. I didn’t plan it like that; it just happened that the following three books on my reading schedule were mysteries. Go figure. A Body Washes Ashore was the second book in that three books stretch. I am glad that I read it. Not only did I get to travel to different countries, but I got to know the main characters better. Plus, the authors introduced a couple of fantastic new characters.

A Body Washes Ashore is the third book in the Spectrum Series. While you could read this as a standalone book, I recommend reading the first two books in the series. That way, you can get a better feel for the main characters and why they do the things they do in this book.

A Body Washes Ashore is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Italy, with travels to Hungary, France, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, and the Raleigh area of North Carolina.

The storyline for A Body Washes Ashore is a combination of continuing the main storyline in The Killings Begin and a brand new storyline. In the main storyline, Tracy tries to suppress his serial killer mentality. He is married and starting a life with Charlotte in Italy. But that is easier said than done. He starts to become comfortable with killing and starts to leave clues, such as his DNA. But, the police are still hot on his heels, gathering evidence and figuring out that he is killing in Europe instead of the States.

As I said above, the other storyline involved almost everyone from the previous books but centered on Lee, Fong, and Remy, a new character. Remy is an art professor who meets Lee and Fong on a Spectrum cruise (as well as Gia, Sasha, and Tracy). With an instant connection to the group, Remy has finally found friends who accept her and her unconventional lifestyle. But friendships are tested when Remy breaks the number one rule she has always abided by. What happened to strain the friendship? Can Remy make amends? Will Tracy make more mistakes?

I was expecting some of the characters in A Body Washes Ashore to be stale and start to stagnate. But I was pleasantly surprised. The characters that I thought would grow stale didn’t. They expanded beyond what I thought they would be. It made the book so much better for me to read.

  • Remy—I wasn’t sure what I thought about her at first. I did like that she was honest and upfront about her lifestyle. I also liked that she had rules. But I knew they were going to be broken. The author didn’t exactly hide that. But, as the book went on, I began to like her. She fought hard and went to therapy to distance herself from that person. When everything exploded, I wasn’t surprised by people’s reactions. Frannie’s was the worst, but I expected it with her being so young (in her 20s). I did not expect what happened to her or who the person was that did it. Talk about a surprise.
  • Tracy—I liked the arc the author took with him. I was hoping it was a redemption arc and he would stop killing for good. But it didn’t. I did like that; he psychoanalyzed himself at one point in the book and realized what was triggering him. His friendship with Gia, Remy, Frannie, Lee, Fong, Sal, and Sasha was terrific, and I didn’t blame him for being angry when everything fell apart. But still, it didn’t excuse what happened next. I was so disappointed in him.

A Body Washes Ashore fit perfectly into the mystery genre. While I knew who the killer was, it was fun to watch the police and reporters in Raleigh try to piece everything together. As I said above, Tracy got sloppy in the last half of the book, and I can’t wait to see if the police will piece everything together.

The storyline with Tracy, the killings, the group of friends, and his wife was interesting. I liked seeing Tracy on an even keel for most of the book. I liked even more that he felt comfortable enough to tell Charlotte about the sexual abuse that occurred when he was younger. I believe that alone could let go of some of his anger towards his mother (but not enough for him to stop killing her lookalikes). He was himself with his friends. But when he started killing again, I was horrified by who he killed and how close he was to being caught. If Frannie weren’t deaf, she would have caught him.

The storyline with Remy, Lee, and Fong broke my heart reading it. I was disappointed by how this storyline turned out. Through the first two books, Lee and Fong were a power couple, and I wasn’t expecting things to go sideways with them. But the author did show that their relationship wasn’t as good as it was presented. I wish that Remy hadn’t been caught up in it. I also hated seeing Lee break the way she did. It was painful to read and even more painful when Fong realized how much he had messed up. But you know what, he didn’t even seem that sorry. His conversations with Sasha and his obsession with Remy highlighted that. This is a storyline that I am going to watch because I have a feeling it will be huge in the next book.

There are trigger warnings in A Body Washes Ashore. They would be cheating, alcohol, murder, and a person being told of a partner’s past sexual abuse (it was not graphic). If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of A Body Washes Ashore was interesting. The author did not wrap up any of the storylines. Instead, they were left wide open. But I was able to see the police closing in on Tracy. I can’t wait to see what the next (and last) book will bring!!!

I recommend A Body Washes Ashore to anyone over 21. There is language, moderate sexual situations, and violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.

I want to thank Bradley Pay for allowing me to read and review A Body Washes Ashore. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading A Body Washes Ashore, you will enjoy reading these books:

The Devil You Know (Detective Margaret Nolan: Book 3) by P.J. Tracy

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: January 17th, 2023

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

Series: Detective Margaret Nolan

Deep into the Dark—Book 1

Desolation Canyon—Book 2

The Devil You Know—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan returns in The Devil You Know, the next book in the series where P. J. Tracy “seems to have found her literary sweet spot” (New York Times Book Review).

Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarified world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the darkness behind the glitter.

The body of beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’ agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned. But when his powerful brother-in-law is murdered, he and Nolan both find themselves entangled in a scandalous deception of deadly proportion that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood’s untouchables.

First Line:

The ocean was singing in the hushed undulating tones of low tide on this still, damp night.

The Devil You Know by P.J. Tracy

While reading this book, I realized I need to read more mysteries that are only mysteries. I read romance, paranormal, and horror mysteries but never just plain secrets (if that makes sense). So, I was eager to read The Devil You Know. While I liked the book (and the story), I needed clarification during parts of the book. I don’t particularly appreciate being confused when I am reading. That did make for a less-than-ideal reading situation for me.

The Devil You Know had an exciting plotline. Detective Nolan has been assigned a disturbing case. A famous actor has been discovered dead in a rockslide. The death is suspicious because the day before, he had been the subject of a deepfake video that ended his career. Within a few days, the top executive where that actor worked is found murdered. The person that links the actor and the executive: the agent representing him and his family ties to the executive. It is up to Nolan to determine if the actor was murdered, committed suicide, or died in an accident. While doing that, she is assisting in the murder investigation of the executive. What Nolan finds out is so earth-shattering that it will shake her to the core. What does she find out? Who was willing to frame a well-liked actor in a deepfake video? Why? And how is the executive’s death connected to it?

The Devil You Know is the 3rd book in that Detective Margaret Nolan series. While readers can read this as a standalone, I recommend reading the books in order. Some parts of the book made me scratch my head because I didn’t know the backstories.

The characters in The Devil You Know were well-written, but I felt a certain disconnect with them. If I had read the first two books, I would have understood more about Nolan’s background. I also would have understood more about some of the secondary characters.

  • Detective Nolan—I liked her. She was smart, and she worked well with others. But there was also a sad element to her character. I feel it was because of her brother’s death (which is linked to another secondary character). She also emphasized with the victims’ families and, weirdly enough, the murderer. I loved seeing her process of finding out who the murderer was.

The Devil You Know fits perfectly in with the mystery genre. I loved the red herrings that she put out!! Talk about distracting, and I did feel bad for those two women (as vile as they were). The author kept me guessing until the end.

The storyline with Detective Nolan, the actor’s death, the deepfake, and the investigation were wonderfully written. The author had me double guessing if it was an accident (because of testimony from his friend/hostess of the party). Even when it was determined a murder (and no, not a spoiler, the detectives figured it out fairly early), I loved watching the investigation turn to suspects. There was another murder (with the same MO) and the revelation of the murderer. I was shocked at who it was because I didn’t see it coming. I also did feel bad for that person because of the trauma that person endured. But still, no excuse. Oh, and let’s not forget the deepfake. That was the cherry on top of this whole investigation. Once they figured out who it was, it was all downhill.

The storyline with Detective Nolan, the executive’s death, and the investigation were as wonderfully written as the first investigation. The author kept this one more under wraps than the other investigation. But still, I liked seeing how the detectives investigated it in tandem with the actor’s murder. There was a twist to that plotline that wasn’t revealed until the very end of the book. One that made me go, “Holy crap.” Because whoever went to jail for his murder didn’t kill him. The real killer’s identity stunned me.

The storyline with the agent, murders, his relationship with the movie star, and then his murder did take me for a ride. For the longest time, I thought the same thing Detective Nolan did. He did it and covered it up. Of course, there were a few red herrings sprinkled in that storyline. The big twist in that one was how the detectives figured everything out. I won’t say what, but he was a pretty intelligent guy for doing what he did.

I went back and forth on putting a trigger warning on this book. I ultimately decided to do it because what was discussed was disturbing. My trigger warnings are mentions of child pornography, deepfake videos, drug use, and alcohol use. If any of these triggers you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

The end of The Devil You Know was okay. The author wrapped up the first two storylines, and I thought they were over. But then the author tacked on that final chapter that blew everything about the second murder out of the water. It was indeed a twist that took me by surprise.

I would recommend The Devil You Know to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and P.J. Tracy for allowing me to read and review The Devil You Know. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading The Devil You Know, you will enjoy reading these books:

A Wicked Game (Ruthless Rivals: Book 3) by Kate Bateman

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

Date of publication: December 27th, 2022

Series: Ruthless Rivals

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction, Adult, Regency, Fiction, Military Fiction, Military Romance, Regency Romance

A Reckless Match—Book 1 (review here)

A Daring Pursuit—Book 2 (review here)

A Wicked Game—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

If there’s one thing impossible for a Davies to resist, it’s a challenge from a Montgomery. . .

A teasing bet.

Shipwrecked and imprisoned thanks to an incorrect map, Captain Morgan Davies has returned to London to exact sweet revenge on the cartographer responsible for his suffering. He’s also vowed to claim the winner’s prize―three kisses―in the bet he made with his long-time nemesis, the prickly, smart-mouthed Harriet Montgomery. His incarceration has clarified his feelings for her, but convincing the infuriating woman he wants to marry her is going to be his greatest challenge yet. When Harriet’s revealed to be the very mapmaker he seeks, Morgan decides to combine revenge and seduction into one delightful package. . .

A dangerous enemy.

Harriet’s always wanted witty scoundrel Morgan, and now he’s back; as handsome and as taunting as ever. She has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s failing eyesight and a rival mapmaker copying her work to play wicked games with a dastardly Davies―however tempting he might be. But when a threat from Morgan’s past puts them both in danger, Harry discovers that she and Morgan might not be enemies at all . . .

First Line:

As he strode along Whitehall, Morgan repressed the urge to whistle a jaunty sea shanty.

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman

I was excited when I was invited to review A Wicked Game. I had reviewed the previous two books in the series and wanted to read Morgan’s story. So, I did an odd sort of happy dance in my living room (I was dodging two kittens, two one years old and a six-year-old cat who were very curious about Mom going “Oh yeah, oh yeah” and fist-pumping). I was justified in my excitement about this book. It was the best book in the series.

A Wicked Game is the love story between Morgan Davies and Harriet Montgomery. Morgan is a Welsh naval captain who had been captured by the French for years before being freed. Harriet is Morgan’s childhood friend/nemesis. She is also the cartographer who drew the map that led to Morgan’s imprisonment. Now that Morgan is free, he is determined to win Harriet over. But that is easier said than done. Harriet is an independent woman who cares for her blind father and doesn’t trust Morgan. Add the Frenchman who captured and tortured Morgan, has eluded capture, and has been seen in London….looking for the cartographer who drew the map and Morgan. Will Morgan confess his feelings for Harriet? Will Harriet learn to trust Morgan and her feelings? Will the Frenchman find Harriet and Morgan?

I had gotten a glimpse into Harriet and Morgan’s characters in the previous two books. From what I saw, I liked them and couldn’t wait to see if they would end up together.

  • Morgan—-I don’t even know where to begin with him. As I mentioned above, I loved him in the previous two books and was looking forward to his story. It didn’t disappoint. I loved that Morgan was open about how he felt about Harriet. Even in the scenes at the ball (where he secured his three kisses), he knew he loved her. But the time spent in captivity brought those feelings more into focus. He was rare for a romance hero; he admitted his feelings pretty early on in the book and then spent the rest of the book trying to convince Harriet his feelings were genuine. That alone made this book so great to read.
  • Harriet—I liked Harriet, but there were times when I wanted to shake her. Like the night when Morgan promised her three kisses. I couldn’t believe that she thought he was joking. Harriet grew up with him. She should have known that he wasn’t playing with her. I liked that the author went in a different direction with her. Instead of making her part of the ton, she was a regular Miss who worked as a cartographer for the British government. It was an exciting change of pace from the usual Regency romances I read, and I loved it.

Several notable secondary characters added extra depth to the book. I loved seeing the characters from the previous books make appearances.

I am obsessed with Regency romance and can’t read enough of them. A Wicked Game fits perfectly into the historical romance genre. So it is a bonus when a book written in that genre is as well-written as this one was.

The storyline with Morgan, Harriet, and their love story was well written. I was 100% on team Morgan and loved that he was so much in touch with his feelings. He was willing to do anything to show Harriet that his feelings were genuine.

The storyline with Harriet, the copycat, her working for the government, and the Frenchman was riveting. The author did a fantastic job of showing how Harriet did her job, mainly how she drew the maps that would end up in the enemies’ hands. The author also showed that while she successfully ran her business, it was a male-dominated society, and she had to hide behind a male identity. That led to her issues with the rival printer, and in turn, that led to the Frenchman.

This wouldn’t be a good review if I didn’t mention the sex. There are a lot of sex and sexual situations in A Wicked Game. When Morgan started collecting his three kisses, he didn’t say what type. That first sexual situation was out of this world. The other sexual situations and sexual acts were either just as good or better than that first scene. I kept thinking, “Dang, Harriet, he’s a keeper.

The end of A Wicked Game kept me on edge. The author kept me guessing what would happen with Harriet and Morgan (even though I knew they would end up together). She wrapped up all the storylines in a way that satisfied me as a reader. I hope she will write more books in this world.

I would recommend A Wicked Game to anyone over 21. There are sex, sexual situations, mild violence, and no language.