Shadowed Origins (The Guardians: Book 2) by Reily Garrett

Advertisements

Publisher:

Date of publication: June 3rd, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Fantasy

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ashlyn has spent years hiding her ability to connect with animals, especially dogs. After escaping the clutches of her guardian, she’s determined to remain free and bring the psychopath to his knees.
The terrorist’s plan for mass annihilation and anarchy requires her talent, and he will stop at nothing to reclaim his unique and invaluable prize.
Taylor’s telekinesis and special-ops training granted him seamless passage to work with Kenner’s paranormal unit. When he rescues a young woman from the clutches of her sadistic guardian, he’s unprepared for the emotional backlash created by their connection.
Forging ahead on the narrow path of freedom dictates keeping an eye on the rearview—for death and destruction dog their every mile.


First Line:

Ashlyn never considered the face of evil taking a physical form, with a fist to match.

Shadowed Origins by Reily Garrett

I have been looking forward to reading Shadowed Origins since I finished Shadowed Horizons. I had questions from the first book that I hoped would be answered in this one. And guess what, the author answered all of my questions. The author left me with questions about Ashlyn and Keira’s older brother. But he is the focus of book three, and I am sure the author will answer those questions for me in that book.

Shadowed Origins is the second book in The Guardians series. This book is not stand-alone. You need to read book 1 to understand what is happening in book 2.

Before I get into the review, I want to throw up a trigger warning. If you have been following my blog for a while, then you know how rare it is for me to do this. The main character, Ashlyn, has been abused (in all ways except sexual) by her captor, Roth. The author includes some scenes of the verbal, psychological, and physical abuse that Ashlyn has endured. So, if this triggers you, I strongly suggest not reading Shadowed Origins.

Shadowed Origins is Ashlyn’s story. Ashlyn has been held captive by Roth for her entire life. She has spent most of her captivity trying to escape Roth, but he has always caught her. Ashlyn had her next escape planned out, and it would have ended the same way except, this time, Ashlyn had help. She was aided by a group of men with similar powers that she and Roth possessed. Ashlyn discovers her powers (she can communicate with animals) and uses that power to protect herself against Roth’s numerous attempts to take her back. She also discovers that she has an identical twin sister who shares the same powers, and she realizes that she is falling in love with Taylor, an ex-special forces op who is also telekinetic. Will Roth succeed in taking back Ashlyn? Will she be able to meet her sister? Will she find out who is funding Roth?

I liked Ashlyn. Even though Roth abused her, she still had an optimistic view of life. She tried to find ways to escape him, and she resisted him in almost every way—which caused Roth to lash out. I thought that her plan to escape him out the bathroom window would fail (Roth had given her a sedative to keep her compliant). So, I was surprised when it didn’t fail and when Taylor and his group came to her aid. From then on, I enjoyed watching her character grow to become a young woman with confidence in her abilities. She was also able to see what/form healthy relationships look like and was instrumental in bringing the two groups together. I also loved her delight when she discovered that she had an identical twin sister and her nervousness about meeting her (Keira was an unknown and in a group that Kenner, the leader, thought was the enemy). She was a fantastic character to read, and I can’t wait to see more of her in the upcoming books.

I liked Taylor also. The author didn’t make him as fleshed out as Ashlyn, but he was still a fascinating character. He did not want a relationship because the death of his wife did affect him. But he was very attracted to Ashlyn, and he was also very protective. I liked seeing him slowly realize his feelings for Ashlyn. I also liked seeing him use his powers. His telekinesis was no joke. It was also satisfying to see him eat a bit of crow when his group finally met the other group. He was a little aggressive with that group.

Roth was one evil dude. The author didn’t get into his character in Shadowed Horizons, but in this book, she let loose with him. He was a true psychopath who enjoyed hurting people. He kept human eyes in glass jars in his office, and that grossed me out. But, there was a huge twist in his plotline that I didn’t see coming and I hope gets explained more in book 3. I did feel that he got what he deserved in the end, and I loved who gave it to him!!

The plotlines involving Roth and both groups were well written. I liked how the author finally had both groups meet after so many misconceptions about each other. I also liked how they teamed up to beat Roth and his people.

The end of Shadowed Origins was pretty awesome. I liked how the author wrapped up Ashlyn and Kiera’s storylines. She introduced Logan, Ashlyn and Kiera’s older brother, at the very end of the book (well, the concept of him), so I figure the next book will be about him. She also left the plotline for who Roth was working for, and I am very interested to see where that will end up.

Shadowed Horizons (The Guardians: Book 1) by Reily Garrett

Advertisements

Publisher:

Date of publication: May 13th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Suspense

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1

Shadowed Origins—Book 2

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fate can have many paths. Which would you choose?

Kiera’s capacity to face death stems from training, begun when old enough to wield a knife. Befriended by wolves and raised by a group of psychic men sworn to protect humanity, she now faces mercenaries intent on reshaping the world using equal talents.

Prodigious keyboard skills and innate curiosity has led Wyatt McGlauklin to invent the unimaginable. He’s long since claimed status as the top computer science geek. Little do people know, there’s much more to Wyatt.
When a blonde spitfire steps out of nowhere to prevent his assassination, his life’s direction takes an extraordinary turn where his analytical mind can’t validate paranormal phenomena.

Fate decrees Kiera find her life partner, but she learns you don’t always get to choose whom you love. Wyatt’s arrival challenges destiny as they combine forces to preserve the world as they know it.


First Line:

Each flip of the key ring around his index finger tallied another reason to quit the world of high stake’s business.

Shadowed Horizons by Reily Garrett

I have read/reviewed for Reily Garrett before, and her books are consistently good. When I got the invite to review Shadowed Horizons, I didn’t hesitate to accept. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic and excited me to continue reading the series.

Shadowed Horizons is the first book in The Guardian’s series. Usually, I’d add something about if readers can read the book as a standalone or if you need to read the previous books. But in this case, it’s the first book, so those don’t apply here.

The storyline for Shadowed Horizons was interesting. Wyatt is a tech genius who a group of bodyguards is protecting with paranormal abilities. After being attacked by another group with similar paranormal abilities, he is taken to live with that group. During that attack, Wyatt meets Keira, a beautiful blonde warrior who can open portals and communicate with animals. Hiding him in their safe house is the only rational thing to do, but neither Wyatt nor Keira expected the sparks between them. Wyatt continues to work on his project, and Keira makes some discoveries that rock her world. She has an identical twin sister being held by an evil psychopath who tortures her. Another group, similar to hers, is also operating with the same end game: stop the psychopath. Can Kiera and her group save her sister, stop the psychopath, and ally with the new group? Will Kiera and Wyatt give in to their attraction? More importantly, will Kiera’s adoptive brothers allow her to have a relationship with Wyatt? And will they be able to save Ashlyn, Kiera’s twin?

I liked Wyatt. I felt he dealt with learning about paranormal abilities very well, considering how he found out. I also liked how he dealt with Kiera’s overprotective brothers. He was able to diffuse some pretty tense situations with humor. As for how he was with Kiera, I loved it. He didn’t quite know how to deal with her at first (she was a little pushy) and was a little awkward with her.

I liked Kiera. She was headstrong and knew what she wanted. She also had a penchant for practical jokes (the portals going to women’s dressing rooms was funny). Her paranormal ability (communicating with animals and opening portals) was intriguing. I liked that the author explained what she could do and how she met her wolves. I loved her scenes with Wyatt. She wanted him, and she would have him, regardless of what her brothers said. I was laughing out loud at the scenes where she asked different brothers about sex.

The bad guy, Roth, was a growing presence in the book. I liked that the author didn’t give too much away about him, only that he was collecting people with paranormal abilities and using them as mercenaries. I liked the mystery around why he was doing that and who he was. Nothing was answered about him, just that he was holding Ashlyn captive, and he was this very nasty, very evil person. I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the upcoming books.

The secondary characters, including the people from the other group of paranormals, rounded out the book. I liked seeing the guys’ different paranormal abilities and how they used them. I hope they get their books (along with their HEAs).

The paranormal angle was well written. The author kept me glued to the book with each ability uncovered. They fascinated me. I liked how they used their abilities to not only protect Wyatt but to fight Roth. I didn’t particularly appreciate that they immediately attacked the other group they found in Wyatt’s mansion or didn’t even bother to try and see who they were. They could have been allies, but no, the boys decide to fight them. That is my complaint about that (hopefully, the author will fix it in book 2!!).

The romance angle was ok for me. I liked the attraction between Wyatt and Kiera, but it didn’t progress beyond that. By the end of the book, I wanted more than a few stolen kisses between them. But, on the other hand, it was very refreshing to have a romance novel where the main characters weren’t having sex.

Something caught my attention when the author brought it up, and then she didn’t address it again. Nicholai (the head of the group and a precog) said that Kiera had a fated mate, and Wyatt wasn’t it. It was brought up again later in the book and then dropped. But I need more answers!! Does that mean that Kiera’s fated mate is still out there? Or was Nicholai wrong, and it was Wyatt all along? I hope that it gets explained more in the other books.

I had mixed feelings about the end of Shadowed Horizons. While I liked what I read, I hated that nothing was resolved, and had more questions than answers. Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that it ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. But that cliffhanger did its job, and now I have to read book 2!!

I would recommend Shadowed Horizons to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and sexual situations.

My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

Advertisements

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Contemporary

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police — the truth about his past. While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep — or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions. Are her fears about Michael valid — or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael — who is on the hunt and closing in fast — Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?


First Line:

As Michael Hart rounded the corner to his hotel room, he saw a small, lifeless shape lying on the floor of the hallway.

My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

My Wife is Missing is a fast-moving psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Natalie and Michael have some martial/personal issues, and they decide to take a trip to New York City to reconnect. While Michael is out getting dinner, Natalie takes the kids and disappears. Michael is confused, angry, and concerned. Why? Because Natalie has had insomnia, and he fears the lack of sleep has made her irrational. What Michael doesn’t know is that Natalie has discovered some of Michael’s long-buried secrets, and those secrets have scared her enough to run. But hindering her is her severe insomnia, and she begins to wonder if what she saw and discovered were hallucinations brought on by it. Can Natalie trust herself to get to somewhere safe? Will Michael find her? Will she find out if what she saw/found out is the truth or hallucinations?

I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of this book. I don’t think I have ever read a book where insomnia was a huge and prevalent part of the plotline. I didn’t realize that severe insomnia could result in hallucinations/delusions.

Natalie was such an unreliable character, and I loved it. Her insomnia started when she realized Michael was cheating on her, and it kept getting worse throughout the book. I loved reading her detective work into Michael’s past and his affair. I also loved that when she decided to make a move, she made up her mind and did it. I was cheering for her as she out maneuvered Michael time and time again (even as exhausted as she was).

I wouldn’t say I liked Michael. But, he did gain a little bit of my respect with his detective skills. Even though Natalie was one step ahead of him for 90% of the book, he was close enough to get her a couple of times.

The storyline with Natalie, the kids, her insomnia, and being on the run kept me on the edge of my seat. I was internally cheering her on and wanting her to get to her final destination without Michael finding her. I was a little disappointed with how it ended, but my disappointment was short-lived. It was because the author brought this storyline and the storyline with Michael’s cheating/his past together, and it EXPLODED!!

Michael’s storyline, cheating, and past were well written. Again, it kept me glued to my Kindle. A twist to the cheating storyline and the story about Michael’s history took me by surprise.

The twists in the storylines made the book. I was not expecting either of them. When they both made their appearances (one towards the end and one at the very end), my mouth dropped open. I couldn’t believe that the author went where he did with both twists.

The end of My Wife is Missing was good. The author was able to wrap up all of the storylines in a way that both shocked and pleased me. I was happy to see that at least one of the main characters would have a happy life. But at the same time, I wish the author could have redeemed the other main character somehow. That would have made the book so much better for me.

I would recommend My Wife is Missing to anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and some mild sexual situations.

Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach

Advertisements

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Google Play | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

An embattled actress turns to podcasting when she becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat in this absorbing mystery about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder–from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.

Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Caite Dolan-Leach brings her tantalizing voice, gift for atmosphere, and a cast of delightfully devious and absorbing characters to this riveting novel of suspense.


First Line:

The thing my goddamn manager doesn’t understand is that I don’t need to go on a retreat.

Dark Circles by Cait Dolan-Leach

Dark Circles’ plotline was interesting. Olivia is an actress who has found herself in a bit of a pickle. After a very public, very drunken/drug-fueled temper tantrum, her manager/best friend has decided to send Olivia to a retreat to sober up and maybe come to terms with what set her off. The treat is in Western NY, called House of Light, and seems to be where Olivia can sober up. But, on the first day, two things happen. One: Olivia meets a local who insists that the HoL is behind several suicides/murders in the area. Two: A body washes up on the retreats beach, and it is a former retreat member. Becoming intrigued with the unsolved murders/suicides, Olivia starts a podcast. But, as she goes down the rabbit hole, Olivia becomes obsessed. When she finds a connection between her missing mother and HoL, Olivia starts questioning everything she has been told. But the truth is more terrifying than Olivia knows. What is the truth?

I was not too fond of Olivia at first. She was self-absorbed and couldn’t care less about her harm to other people. Her public meltdown in Manhattan showcased that. She was also reckless and didn’t think things through, which was shown repeatedly during her investigation into the HoL. But, I did start to like her after the first few chapters. She went from what I thought would be a 2-dimensional character to a fully fleshed-out character.

I also liked the secondary characters in Dark Circles. They were a perfect blend of creepy and quirky. They also added that extra oomph that rounded out the book.

I liked that the author chose to incorporate the podcast into the story. From the cheesy ads (don’t we all love listening to those, lol) to the comments after each episode. I loved how they tied into the main storyline. This, too, added an extra depth.

The storyline with the HoL and the murder/suicides was wonderfully written. I was kept on the edge of my bed (because I read Dark Circles in bed). I did not expect it to go the way that it did. The twist in that plotline made my mouth drop.

The secondary plotline with Olivia’s mother was sad. I had a feeling about what was going to be revealed. But the author did an excellent job at distracting me from figuring it out until the end of the book.

The end of Dark Circles was your typical mystery ending. Everything was wrapped up and explained.

I would recommend Dark Circles to anyone over 16. There is violence, language, non-graphic sexual situations, and drug/alcohol use.

That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant

Advertisements

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

Date of publication: April 26th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Western, Mystery

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.


The distinct sound of metal snapping loudly before cracking back into place jerked Cal awake.

That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant

That Cowboy of Mine is the love story between Cal and Dillon. It is also a mystery/thriller/suspense that had me glued to the book. It also helped that I enjoy reading books from Donna Grant.

The plotline was interesting. Cal is woken up by the sound of Dillon cocking her rifle to shoot him. A bull rider, who didn’t get on the circuit, he had decided to drown his sorrows at a local bar. He has no clue what he did or how he ended up on Dillon’s land. But, when he saves her from bullets, he is instantly embroiled in a plot to drive Dillon from her land. Determined to protect her, Cal hatches a plan to pose as her new lover and stay with her at the ranch until everything is sorted out. But, that proves to be hard when secrets are unearthed, and the attempts on Dillon’s life grow. Can Cal and Dillon solve the mystery of why these things are happening? Can they figure out who is behind it? And most importantly, can their love survive what will be revealed?

Dillon annoyed me for about 90% of the book. I liked her, but man, she was quick to jump to conclusions about Cal. There were points in the book where I wanted to shake her because she was that irritating. But, as I said, I liked her. She cared about her ranch, and she wasn’t willing to sell it.

I liked Cal. He was on the up and up with Dillon, even if she didn’t trust him. Of course, what happened the night he was drunk did make me slightly suspicious of him. Also, his relationship with the person who was determined to get Dillon’s property made me raise my eyebrows a little. But, he was determined to help Dillon, even after she made him leave her property. I wasn’t expecting how far he was willing to go, though.

The villains in That Cowboy of Mine were despicable and evil. They wanted power and wealth and would do anything to get it. The main bad guy was more willing to get his hands dirty (killing people), while the second bad guy did have reservations, at first, about what bad guy#1 was doing. But he lost those towards the end of the book and was just as evil as bad guy#1. But there was a 3rd bad guy that came out of nowhere. I was beyond shocked when he just popped up towards the end of the book.

The mystery genre was well written. I did feel that the author stretched out the plotline (why did the bad guys want Dillon’s land). But that feeling went away when the author added two twists to the story. One was why the bad guys wanted the land, and the other was the surprise 3rd bad guy who just appeared out of thin air. That added some extra kick towards the end of the book.

The suspense angle of the book was terrific. I found myself growing anxious and wondering what would happen to Dillon next. The author was able to draw out the events and keep me on edge for the entire book. I loved it!!!

Westerns are my guilty pleasure, and this one didn’t disappoint me. I could have used a few more scenes on the ranch, but I was happy with what the author portrayed.

Since this is a contemporary romance, I expected the sex scenes to be hot and graphic. I wasn’t disappointed. Cal and Dillon had an electric connection that came off the pages. My only complaint was this book took place within a week, so you know that means Instalove. Not a fan of Instalove. But besides that, I enjoyed that angle of the book.

The end of That Cowboy of Mine was fantastic. I loved how the author resolved all the plotlines. Of course, there was some suspense involving Cal, but that also worked itself out. The epilogue was cute, but I did roll my eyes at what Cal’s mother kept asking.

I would recommend That Cowboy of Mine to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, moderate language, and moderate violence.

The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Advertisements

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: April 5th, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction, Suspense, Gothic

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Extraordinarily tense and deliciously mysterious, Anna Downes’s The Shadow House follows one woman’s desperate journey to protect her children at any cost, in a remote place where not everything is as it seems.

A HOUSE WITH DEADLY SECRETS.

A MOTHER WHO’LL RISK EVERYTHING TO BRING THEM TO LIGHT.

Alex, a single mother of two, is determined to make a fresh start for her and her children. In an effort to escape her troubled past, she seeks refuge in a rural community. Pine Ridge is idyllic; the surrounding forests are beautiful and the locals welcoming. Mostly.

But Alex finds that she may have disturbed barely hidden secrets in her new home. As a chain of bizarre events is set off, events eerily familiar to those who have lived there for years, Alex realizes that she and her family might be in greater danger than ever before. And that the only way to protect them all is to confront the shadows lurking in Pine Ridge.


First Line:

The bones came first. A gift, nothing wanted. Next, a doll, a likeness, a promise. And the blood marks the choice. It finds a face, and then you know.

The Shadow House by Anna Downes

I wanted to like The Shadow House. I am a big fan of thrillers/mystery/suspense, and from what I read, this book was something that I would like. Then I read it, and I was let down.

The Shadow House did have an exciting storyline. Alex is a single mother of two, and she is on the run from the abusive father of her youngest child. Finding Pine Ridge was perfect, and Alex felt that she could make a fresh start for herself and her children. But things start to go sour when she receives weird gifts and overhears a bizarre rumor about a witch living in the surrounding woods. The more she digs into the secrets around Pine Ridge, the more unwelcoming the townspeople become. Can Alex figure out not only who is sending the gifts but why? And will her perfect refuge stay that way, or will it become tainted? And are the rumors about the witch true?

I hate to say this, but I was not too fond of Alex for about 90% of the book. She had a massive chip on her shoulder. She had gotten herself into a bad situation with her ex. Nobody deserves to be treated that way. But my pity was overwhelmed by my dislike of her.

I also didn’t care for Renee when the author switched to her POV. She knew that her husband was abusive toward Gabriel, but she didn’t do anything. Her son was crying out for help/attention/both, and she turned a blind eye. I get that she was dealing with her stuff (overbearing, uber-religious parents and her overbearing husband). It’s a problem when your kid locks himself in his bedroom for hours upon hours and refuses to come out. So, yeah, I didn’t pity her (Gabriel, on the other hand, oodles of concern for him).

I did think that The author very well wrote the mystery angle. I liked seeing Alex’s detective work and where it led her. A couple of twists took me by surprise, and one of those twists was a big one.

Several minor storylines were used as a filler. The one with Ollie and his school was heartbreaking, and considering how the author tied it into another secondary character, it broke my heart even more. Of course, that too was a surprise, and I feel that it got overshadowed by everything else.

The thriller angle was a little “meh.” I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next thrill to show up with bated breath. It was barely there. If there, I should have been glued to my Kindle. Instead, I was putting my Kindle down and getting bored.

I was a little surprised by the end of the book. I was left feeling “meh” about it. I wasn’t expecting Renee/Alex’s storyline to be resolved the way it was. The author made it so that almost everyone had a happy ending. It just didn’t sit right with me.

I would recommend The Shadow House to anyone over 21. There is nongraphic sex, mild violence, and mild language.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

Advertisements

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: April 5th, 2022

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

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

THE HUSBAND
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?


First Line:

I cry at weddings. Nothing original there, I know – except, perhaps, the reason.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

I enjoy reading thrillers, and since I had read books by this particular author before, I was pretty eager to read this book. When I read the blurb for The Younger Wife, I knew that I wanted to read it. But then I read the book, and while I liked it, I was very disappointed by the last half of the book.

The Younger Wife has a straightforward plotline with three characters: Heather, Tully, and Rachel. Heather is marrying Stephen, a well-known heart surgeon who is recently divorced from Pam, suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. But something isn’t quite right with Heather’s relationship with Stephen, and the closer to the wedding date, the more apprehensive she becomes. When Rachel discovers a note, along with almost a hundred thousand dollars, stuffed into a hot water bottle, she realizes that the father she knew is a stranger. He could be responsible for her mother’s sudden decline.

Meanwhile, Tully is dealing with her demons. Everything will come crashing together at the wedding. And when it does, will the question be answered? Or will everything stay the same?

The author did an excellent job of amping up the psychological thriller angle of the book. The way she wrote Heather and Stephen’s scenes (all while Heather was tipsy) made me wonder if Heather was clumsy or if Stephen was behind everything. It wasn’t until Heather got seriously hurt and then announced her pregnancy and what happened after that, that I started believing Heather.

Speaking of Heather, I did start not liking or trusting her. It was how she met Stephen and how fast she fell for him. Of course, she was hiding something, and I was irritated that the author kept dragging it out. I did figure it out about halfway through the book, but I was still surprised when she told Stephen. And I did do an eye-roll with his response. But, by the end of the book, my opinion of her changed, and I liked her.

I liked Rachel, and I pitied her when the author revealed her past trauma. But I did kind of eye-roll with how fast Heather figured it out with the revealed clues. I wasn’t even thinking that when Heather asked Rachel. I also felt terrible that she couldn’t ask Stephen questions about several key things. I also felt horrible that her trauma had such a terrific hold on her, manifesting in an eating disorder.

I was not too fond of Tully. I feel bad saying this because she was such a hot mess for the entire book. But she was awful. If she had even been likable, I might have had a smidgen more sympathy for her. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised when she hit rock bottom towards the end of the book. I wish the author had done it sooner because Tully, after her arrest, was more likable and more relatable. She was still a hot mess, but she was getting help, and by the end of the book, she seemed so much more relaxed.

The wedding storyline and the aftermath were well written. The author kept me guessing what happened until almost the end of the book. I was completely surprised at who killed Stephen and what drove that person to do it. I did not expect that person to do anything.

As I mentioned above, I loved the book until the last half. Then I felt that the author did a 180 and tried to play mind games with the readers. I was not impressed with what she did and how she played everything off. I read those chapters, plus the letter written, with a wide-open mouth. I couldn’t believe what I was reading compared to the evidence given in the first half of the book.

I do want to warn you that several scenes might trigger someone. There are scenes of rape (not graphic), domestic abuse, miscarriage, eating disorders, kleptomania, nursing home abuse, alcoholism, and child abuse. If you think that any of these might trigger you, I strongly suggest not reading The Younger Wife.

I would recommend The Younger Wife to anyone over 21. There are several triggers, which are detailed in the paragraph above. There is also mild violence, language, and very mild sexual scenes.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Advertisements

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: March 8th 2022

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Apple Books | WorldCat

Goodreads synopsis:

The next electrifying novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo behind The Wife Between Us.

Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all—until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.


First Line:

Ten sessions might not seem like nearly enough time to solve complex therapeutic issues, but according to Avery Chambers, her unique brand of intensive short-term counseling sessions changes lives.

the golden couple by greer hendricks

I am a huge Greer Hendricks/Sarah Pekkanen fan. I have read almost every book they have written, and I am always looking for their newest book. So when STP contacted me to read/review The Golden Couple, I jumped on it. This book was fantastic!! I am happy that I read it.

The Golden Couple had an exciting plotline. Avery is a controversial therapist who has lost her license. She has a ten-session program that she guarantees will change the lives of her clients. Marissa and Matthew Bishop are new clients whose marriage is in trouble. Marissa has cheated and wants to repair her marriage for the sake of their 8-year-old son. But there are more secrets in Marissa and Matthew’s marriage than Avery expected. Who will survive the secrets? And who is hiding the biggest secret of them all?

Psychological thrillers are one of my favorite genres to read. I love having my head messed with, and The Golden Couple delivers on that. There are so many twists and turns in the plotline that I almost had an issue keeping up. That made it so much more delicious to read.

Avery was a very unreliable narrator who operated in a morally gray area. She honestly wanted to help her clients (and did with resounding success), but her methods were unorthodox. I disagreed with how she gathered information on her clients, but hey, if it works, it works. There was a point where she seemed to be coming unraveled, but I loved how the author resolved that. It was perfect!!!

I didn’t care for Marissa at first. She blindsided her husband (and Avery) with the confession that she had cheated. She refused to name who she was cheating with and played victim every time Matthew got upset with her. But, as the book went on, I started to see that she had reason to be paranoid, and my opinion began to change. The only thing I even found fault with, after a while, was that she still refused to name the person she cheated with. At one point, I was like, “Girl, just tell THEM.”

Matthew was an enigma the entire book. I didn’t quite know what to think about him. His actions kept me a little off-center for the whole book. He seemed to love Marissa and was willing to do anything to fix their relationship. But then he would blow up at her. At first, I thought it was normal (he was mad), but it started to ring false to me as the book went on.

The mystery angle of The Golden Couple was terrific. I could not figure out who the mystery man was, but I was wrong about what was going on with Avery. The twists in the plotline took me by surprise. The major twist left me sitting there with my mouth hanging open (I am sure I looked like a fool) and an explosive “No EFFING Way!” coming out of my mouth. Side note: Don’t do that in the middle of the night. It wakes up grumpy husbands and 8-year-olds who don’t sleep very well.

The suspense angle of The Golden Couple was just as amazingly written. I was kept on the edge of my seat, wondering about all different things (some of which I can’t put here because of spoilers).

The end of The Golden Couple was very anti-climatic. There was a minor plot twist that involved Avery. Out of everything in this book, I did see that coming. Still, I liked that it ended on a good note instead of making me wonder “what if.”

I would recommend The Golden Couple to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and no sex.

Never Broken (Lisa Jamison: Book 2) by Lori Duffy Foster

Advertisements

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

Date of publication: April 12th, 2022

Series: Lisa Jamison

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

Never Broken—Book 2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

The near corpse of a stranger had no idea where he’d been, how long he’d been there or who had kept him captive. But one thing intrigued journalist Lisa Jamison even more than his story: recent memories of a woman named Chandra Bower.


Seven years had passed since Chandra disappeared from Seneca Springs without a trace. Police investigators still compared DNA records whenever an unidentified body appeared, hoping to at least bring her family closure. Lisa still chased down leads from desperate family and friends, being careful to hide her investigations from an editor who thought she’d become obsessed with a woman who was clearly dead.

But this man had just seen her, sewing designer clothes in a dark, filthy basement with about twenty other men and women under horrifically inhumane conditions. And the sweatshop workers all had one thing in common: All were people of color.


A split-second decision to help the man takes Lisa on a race against time. His captors want him back, there is evidence someone on the police force might be involved and the man knows that if he were recaptured, they would torture him until he revealed the names of the two people who helped him escape: Lisa Jamison and Chandra Bower.

Lisa promised her teenage daughter she would stay away from the dangerous stories ever since her job had nearly gotten them both killed two years before. But she no longer has a choice. She must keep the stranger hidden while she gathers enough evidence to turn the case over to city police or the FBI. At least three lives—her own, the stranger’s and Chandra’s—depend on it.


First Line:

Lisa Jamison knew she should be taking in her surroundings, the worn brick buildings with shard-lined windows; graffiti so old the slang was almost retro; the stench from the nearby creek, which many of the deserted factories had used as their own waste dumps for decades; the cigarette butts; the crushed beer cans; the McDonald’s cups; the occasional used condom or syringe.

never broken by lori duffy foster

When the author approached me to read/review Never Broken, I had to think about it. When she emailed me, I was very behind in reading and reviews. But, I have a thing where if I start a series, I will finish it. That and the blurb, which interested me, were ultimately the main reasons I decided to accept the invite. I am glad that I did.

Never Broken had an exciting plotline. This book takes place two years after the events of A Dead Man’s Eyes. Lisa is a journalist covering a story in a very seedy area (that is about to be revitalized) when she discovers a sick man hiding in the back seat of her car. Saul tells Lisa an interesting story about illegal sweatshops and the mysterious people who run them. But her attention is caught he mentions the name of an African American woman who had disappeared years earlier. Deciding to investigate, Lisa needs the help of Dorothy to keep Saul safe. What Lisa finds during her investigation shakes her to her core. Can she oust the sweatshop owners and save the workers, including Chandra? Or will she have to choose between her job and her family?

Never Broken is book 2 in the Lisa Jamison series. Readers can read this book as a standalone. But, I do suggest reading book 1 to understand Lisa’s backstory. It is gone over, very briefly, in Never Broken, but it is more in-depth in book 1.

The main thing that I liked about Never Broken was that the author was able to take me into how investigative journalist does their job. I had a rough idea of how they did their job. But, I never knew how much work went into it. A good majority of the book was Lisa chasing down leads, casing the neighborhood where she thinks Saul came from and talking to the people in the community. I also didn’t realize how dangerous it could be. At one point, Lisa got run down by a car because she was coming close to where the sweatshop was. That sent chills up my spine and made me thankful that I didn’t pursue my high school dream of being a reporter.

I loved Lisa in this book. She was quick on her feet, and her intuition was incredible (chefs kiss here). She was also still a devoted mother, and when things started to get hairy, her first thoughts were of her daughter and how to keep her safe. She was also human. The horror and pity she felt when she first saw Saul was palpable. I also got why she didn’t trust anyone she worked with. She was almost killed by a fellow reporter, one she considered her friend, and she didn’t trust anyone other than her editor. So, I got why she was hesitant to bring Frank with her on interviews.

What do I say about Saul? He was a wonderful human being. The strength (mental and physical) that he showed throughout the book was terrific. Of course, he was damaged. Wouldn’t you be if you were forced to work in a basement and treated as less than a human? I loved seeing him open up to Dorothy and begin the healing he needed.

Dorothy was the other main character in Never Broken. She was mentioned a few times in the first book but never was made into much of a character. Well, in this book, she was one of the main characters. My heart broke when she realized she felt so protective of Saul because of an unspeakable loss she had experienced years earlier. Saul reminded her of her son. She was also a bad b*tch who wouldn’t give up Saul, no matter what.

The secondary characters fleshed out this book. They brought an extra depth to the storyline (not that it needed it). I was disappointed that Lisa’s daughter was brought down to a secondary character. She had no place in this story (other than helping Dorothy with Saul a few times). But, as the book went on, I got it.

The mystery angle was terrific. I was genuinely kept on edge about who was the sweatshop owner and who was behind Lisa’s assaults. The author did throw out some red herrings throughout the book. I thought I figured it out when an arrest was made. Then the twist came, and I was like, “Wait, what?

The suspense angle was also excellent. I wanted to know if Saul would make it. I also wanted to know if Lisa would figure out where the sweatshop was and who was operating it. The author did a superb job of keeping me glued to the book.

The end of Never Broken was a bit anti-climatic. The author wrapped up the storylines in a way that satisfied me. She also showed the aftermath of everything that had happened. I did like that Lisa got a little bit of happiness at the very end, and I wonder if that will morph into something for book 3.

I would recommend Never Broken for anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and no sexual situations. There are also scenes of modern-day slavery, a forced abortion, and talk of rape.

Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Advertisements

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: March 8th, 2022

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

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Scarlett’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI shows up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.


First Line:

Dayton Culver was well aware he was trespassing when he and his golden retriever, Lulu, veered off the path in the woods.

daughter by kate mclaughlin

When I first saw Daughter on NetGalley, I was mildly intrigued. But, at the time, I didn’t request it. I figured that if the book gods wanted me to read this book, they would make it happen. Well, it happened. I got the invite from SMP, and I was pretty excited to read it. But I got it at a pretty bad time. I had some personal things going on and had to push this book to the back burner. It sat on my TBR for almost two months, and during that time, I kept seeing reviews for it everywhere. Nearly all were favorable, and that kept me amped to read it. I was blown away when I read it. It lived up to my internal hype and the hype I kept seeing.

Daughter had an exciting plotline. Scarlet is your typical seventeen-year-old. She has a great group of friends, a boy that she is interested in, and a mother who is beyond overprotective. That is blown away when Scarlet finds out that her life is a lie. She has been in hiding her entire life. Why? She is the daughter of a serial killer. That same serial killer is dying and wants to talk to Scarlet. The FBI is hoping that he tells Scarlet about his remaining victims and hopes to keep her identity under wraps. But that is blown when pictures of Scarlet and her mother are leaked to the press. Overnight, Scarlet’s life is ruined. She is stalked by the paparazzi and groupies of her father. Most of her friends turn on her. But Scarlet feels connected to her father’s victims and is determined to find her way through this mess. What will Scarlet do?

I will admit, I am a true crime junkie. I watch everything and anything on serial killers. But I have never seen anything that discusses what the families of the serial killers go through. I have seen plenty of speculation but never what their trauma was and how they coped with it. So, reading a book from the perspective of a serial killer’s daughter was interesting.

The author chose to interweave news articles, web forums, and podcasts throughout the book. It made me upset and very uncomfortable to read those articles. I also got mad that one outlet released Scarlet and her mother’s home address, city, and state. I also was a little irritated by how cruel some of those articles/forums/podcasts were. Scarlet was a baby. She had nothing to do with her father’s crimes and was actively helping the FBI. What else did they want her to do?

Scarlet was a powerful young woman. Her reaction to what her mother and the FBI told her was nothing short of what I would expect from a teenager. She handled everything else with grace. I did think what the FBI asked of her was a little too much. But she was a boss when it came to talking with her father. She couldn’t have handled it any better. I also loved her idea of honoring the victims. I thought it would be healing not only for Scarlet but for the loved ones the victims left behind.

Jeffery Lake was an absolute monster. My skin crawled when I read his interactions with Scarlet, and I wanted to throw up when he told Scarlet the reason behind her “real” name. And what he did after he died, I have no words.

The thriller angle of Daughter was a bit slow at times, but it was there. It did ramp up when Scarlet and her mother traveled to Raleigh—not knowing what Lake would do or say added to that.

The suspense angle of Daughter was excellent. I never knew what direction their conversations would take. Would he give her another name, or would he play mind games with her? It was that part of the book that kept me glued to it.

The end of Daughter was a bit anti-climatic. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop or something to happen (different than the storage unit deal). Nothing happened, though. I liked seeing how Scarlet and her mother were thriving now that Lake was dead. The legacy he had left was awful, but they both were learning to live with it.

I would recommend Daughter to anyone over 21. Drug use, alcohol use, language, description of necrophilia, language, sexual situations, and mild violence.

Exit mobile version
%%footer%%