19 March 2018

The Kind Worth Killing

Synopsis from Goodreads: On a flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning Lily Kintner. Over martinis, the strangers play a game in which they reveal intimate details about themselves. But what begins as playful banter between Ted and Lily takes a turn when Ted claims, half-seriously, that he would like to kill his wife. Then Lily surprises him by saying that she’d like to help.

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily forge an unusual bond and talk about the ways Ted can get out of his marriage. But Lily has her own dark history she’s not sharing with Ted. As Ted begins to fall in love with Lily, he grows anxious about any holes in their scheme that could give them away. And suddenly the two are pulled into a very lethal game of cat and mouse, one in which both are not likely to survive when all is said and done.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, William Morrow, 2016.

How acquired: Borrowed from my mom.

First line: “Hello, there,” she said.

My thoughtsWhile at my mom's house, talking about a book we'd both recently read and loved (LULLABY, by Claire Seeber), I commented that it made me want to read more of that genre. My mom promptly disappeared into her room and reemerged with this book in hand. I started it the next day and whizzed through it.

The chapters start out alternating between Ted, who just discovered his wife is cheating on him with their contractor, and Lily, who he meets in an airport bar. The find themselves on the same flight, and Ted spills the whole story to Lily, admitting that he'd like to kill his wife. And Lily, rather than being shocked, says she will help him do so.

As they take turns narrating, both in first person POV, we learn more about how Ted and Miranda met, and Lily's unconventional family, along with some secrets from Lily's past (although she does not share that information with Ted). They plot and plan how to murder Miranda and Brad, the contractor, and when the time is almost nigh, holy plot twist! Something right out of left field, and the twists and turns just keep coming.

This is a fast paced and engrossing book. I feel like I can't say too much about what happens without getting spoilery, but I was glued to the pages. The character's narrative voices aren't very distinctive, but that's literally the only complaint I can come up with. A brilliant and unexpected read, and I've already pre-ordered the author's next book and bought one of his previous books. 

14 March 2018

The Texan's Forbidden Fiancée (Lone Star Legends, Book 1; Harlequin Desire #2308)


Synopsis from Goodreads: After a century-long family feud, Madison Milan doesn't trust any Calhoun—especially Jake, the man who ditched her on the night of their elopement. But when he shows up claiming an heirloom map leads to gold on her ranch, she's swamped by steamy memories. She may not trust Jake, but she just might want him…

Jake will do anything to get what he wants—Madison's ranch. Consider it payback to the Milans. And Madison? She's collateral damage in their family feud. The confident cowboy has nothing to worry about…except falling for the forbidden beauty all over again…

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 2014.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: In the small town of Verity, Texas, when the door to the Texas United Western Bank opened, Jake Calhoun's breath whooshed out as if a fist slammed into his gut.

My thoughtsI don't think I've read this author before, but I see her name all the time and know she's written tons of books. I have several more of her books in the TBR pile. So I think I had higher expectations than I should've. A feud and digging for treasure seems like a refreshing topic for a category romance, but the book was mostly melodrama and repeated accusations of "you walked out on our wedding day" and "you wanted your father's money more than you wanted me", and then kiss kiss and lots of makeup sex.

11 March 2018

Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, Book 7)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City series, is arguably one of the most widely loved characters in contemporary fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his ground-breaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the fifty-five-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice.

Having survived the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers, Michael has learned to embrace the random pleasures of life, the tender alliances that sustain him in the hardest of times. Michael Tolliver Lives follows its protagonist as he finds love with a younger man, attends to his dying fundamentalist mother in Florida, and finally reaffirms his allegiance to a wise octogenarian who was once his landlady.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, HarperCollins, 2017.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: Not long ago, down on Castro Street, a stranger in a Giants parka gave me a loaded glance as we passed each other in front of Cliff's Hardware.

My thoughtsI loved the first five Tales of the City books, but the sixth book was a disappointment for me. I did not like the person Mary Ann had become after being a local celebrity went to her head. By the end of the book I quite actively disliked her. But this seventh book, set twenty years later, is about Michael, and was just as enthralling as the first five books.

Unlike previous books, this one is just Michael's story, and the narrative is even in first person, his point of view. Other characters are still around of course – best friend Brian and his (and Mary Ann's) now grown daughter, Shawna, and an elderly Anna Madrigal. Thack is long gone, but Michael is still living in the same house, and is now married to the sweet and much younger Ben.

Michael tells us his story with wit and deprecation. We follow him to Florida, where he visits his ailing mother and ultra-religious brother and sister-in-law. Michael refers to them as the biologicals, and his other, more accepting and loving family, the characters mentioned above, as the logicals, a term I love.

My favorite quote in the book:
As she fiddled with the piping on the slipcover I could see that her hands were the only place where her age was evident. I've noticed this about myself as well. We can fool ourselves about our changing faces, but our hands creep up on us. One day we look down at them and realize they belong to our grandparents.”

I had this exact revelation a couple of years ago, when I looked down one day and saw my grandmother's hand. Which overjoyed me, as I adored her and miss her.

Mary Ann is now living in Connecticut with her second husband, but she does make a brief appearance towards the end of the book, where she and Michael have an awkward and stilted reunion (and under trying circumstances), and then she breaks down and cries and insinuates that there was more to her moving away than the advancement of her career. She's not redeemed in my eyes, and I'm hesitant to pick up the next book, MARY ANN IN AUTUMN. But I do look forward to the last book, THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL, and I cannot skip a book in a series, so I'm just going to have to trust Mr. Maupin to bring Mary Ann full circle and make me like her again.

I zipped through this book in a day and a half, giving up some sleep to do so, something I don't have the energy for very often. But it was that good.

09 March 2018


Synopsis from Goodreads: For Jess, the much-needed family outing with her wealthy husband and newborn Louis is a chance to get her troubled marriage back on track. But when Mickey takes Louis for a stroll, they don't come back. And the next time Jess sees her husband, he's in a hospital, his memory shattered…and he's the prime suspect in their son's disappearance. 

Amid a media frenzy and skeptical police, Jess is learning fast that disturbing secrets surround everyone she thinks she knows—her charming, unreliable brother; her envious sister; Louis's vivacious young nanny; and the elegant ex-wife Mickey won't discuss. The only thing Jess can trust is her desperate, determined instinct. For the clock is ticking down, and someone will do whatever it takes to make her precious baby boy their own…

Stats for my copy: Mass Market paperback, Worldwide Library Suspense, 2012.

How acquired: Borrowed from my mom.

First line: Later, I couldn't think whose idea it had been to visit the Tate that day.

My thoughtsI was sucked into this book from the first few pages. I probably never would've picked this book up based on the title or the cover, so I am so glad my mom recommended it and loaned me her copy! Not far in I kept thinking why had I not heard of this book before, or seen any buzz about it? Then I realized it was first published some ten years ago.

Jess and her husband, Mickey, and their eight month old son are having a rare day out together, when they get separated in a crowd, and then the husband and son just vanish. Mickey eventually turns up in a hospital, beaten and bruised, and with no memory of what happened.

The narrative is told by Jess in first person point of view, and her fear and terror at losing her son are palpable. As the search and police investigation drags on she becomes more and more desperate and unraveled. As you would when you're child is missing.

I loved Silver, the lead detective. I loved how he always called her “kiddo”, until she snapped at him to stop, and then the word still kept trying to slip out of his mouth. Jess was often frustrated with the investigation, feeling that the coppers aren't doing enough quick enough, which might be a natural reaction to the situation, but she also already had a dislike for and distrust of police to begin with. As we learn more about her background and her childhood the reason for that is slowly revealed.

A tense and gripping book, while also being a good character study. I think this is going onto my list of all time favorites, and I will definitely be looking for more of this author. 

20 February 2018

Part Time Cowboy (Copper Ridge, Book One)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Sadie Miller isn't expecting any welcome-home parades on her return to Copper Ridge. Least of all from part-time rancher, full-time lawman Eli Garrett. The straight-laced, impossibly hot deputy sheriff glares at her like she's the same teenage hoodlum who fled town ten years ago. But running from her demons has brought Sadie full circle, ready to make a commitment at last. Not to a man, but to a B and B. On Garrett land. Okay, so her plan has a tiny flaw…

Eli works too hard to let a blonde ball of trouble mess up his town. But keeping an eye on Sadie makes it tough to keep his hands off her. And if she's so wrong for him, why does being with her feel so right?

Stats for my copy: Mass Market paperback, Harlequin Books, 2015.

How acquired: Bought

First line: Whoever said you couldn't go home again had clearly never been to Copper Ridge.

My thoughts:  After my first Maisey Yates experience, a book I did not particularly enjoy, several members of a Facebook group I'm in recommended her Copper Ridge series. I happened to already have this book, the first in the series, in my massive TBR, so I gave her another chance. And boy, am I glad I did.

Sadie and Eli argue whenever they're in each other's company, and their bickering is almost juvenile, yet hilarious.
That's funny, Sadie, because I feel like I end up irritated every time I'm around you.”
I just think your irritation is contagious,” she said.
Maybe you're so irritating you irritate yourself.”

On on the same page:
I'm going to go now. And I'm taking the beer. And the water. Thank you. Again. I'll try not to bother you anymore.”
He snorted. “Good luck.”
Oh, I don't need it. I don't mind bothering you. You are clearly the one who is bothered by being bothered. So...you're the one who needs the luck, not me.”

Of course, you know what all this arguing is going to lead to. I do love the enemies to lovers trope!

I liked Sadie very much, and I loved Eli. He ticked so many of my boxes: lawman, cowboy, rancher, grouchy, stoic. In control until the right woman comes along to break that control. They both have some serious baggage, and I enjoyed watching them slowly unpack it and share it piece by piece with each other. Yep, high angst level here.

I also liked Eli's sister and brother – Connor is even more of a grouchypants than Eli - and I'm looking forward to their stories. Now I understand why Ms. Yates is so popular, and I'm so glad I didn't give up on her after that first book of her I read!

04 February 2018

The Rancher's Baby (Texas Cattleman's Club: The Imposter, Book 1)


Synopsis from Goodreads: When a torrid, possibly dangerous scandal comes to Royal, Texas, Selena Jacobs is nearly caught in the middle. Until her best friend Knox McCoy ensures her safety—by moving in! Selena has loved Knox for years, but she’s never had the courage to tell him. Now the sparks she’s tried to smother burn out of control…and leave her pregnant. But with the pain in his past, will Knox finally take a chance on love…with her?.

Stats for my copy: Mass Market paperback, Harlequin Desire, 2018.

How acquired: BookishFirst

First line: My fake ex-husband died at sea and all I got was this stupid letter.

My thoughtsI entered to win a copy of this book on BookishFirst because I see Maisey Yates' name all the time, and my aunt is a fan of hers, and we like a lot of the same authors, so I'd been wanting to try her for awhile. I was excited to win a copy, and waited very impatiently for the book to arrive. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

On BookishFirst, to enter for a book you have to read the first few pages, and then write a brief paragraph about your thoughts. The first page grabbed me immediately (the first line!). The book opens with Selena attending the funeral of her ex-husband, having received a letter telling her she was named as his heir. At the funeral there are several other women with the same letter. Also in attendance is Selena's best friend, Knox, who lives in another state and who she hasn't seen in a long time, and it's an awkward reunion between them. And then Will walks in. Not dead. Selena and Knox leave, but later a relative of Will's invites them to a gathering, along with everyone else who attended the funeral. At the gathering there is just a brief mention of the mystery surrounding Will's supposed death, and that someone may have been using his identity, and Knox fears that Selena could now be in danger, so he insists on going home with her and staying with her to protect her.

That mystery is never really revisited, and is never resolved, which really irritated me. Was it just a plot device to throw Selena and Knox together? The book is part of a multi-author series, so will a future book in the series feature Will and that mystery? It was as if this very interesting situation was introduced, and then just abandoned.

We learn from the beginning that Selena and Knox have been best friends since college. And the fact that they are best friends is constantly reiterated to the point of also being irritating. They kiss and then one of them marvels to themself that they just kissed their best friend! They marvel to themselves that they are lusting after their best friend! Selena becomes pregnant and marvels that she's carrying her best friend's baby!

I never really connected with either Selena or Knox. They are both damaged souls, which usually appeals to me, Selena having had a bad childhood with an abusive father, and Knox having a marriage fall apart after the death of his daughter. The angst level is mile high. The ending of course is happy and satisfying. But the journey to that ending was a bit tedius.

Halfway through the book I posted about it in a Facebook group, and several other members recommended Yates' Copper Ridge series, and I just happened to have the first book, PART TIME COWBOY, which I had picked up at a library sale. So I started it after finishing this book. And you know what? Five chapters in and I am LOVING it! I love the characters, I love the story so far, and I have laughed several times. Out loud. One conversation between the hero and heroine made me laugh so much I had to reread it twice and laughed out loud each time. If I didn't know who the author was, I wouldn't have believed the two books were written by the same person. Maybe THE RANCHER'S BABY being a category romance* and having a shorter word count meant the book had to be edited down too much, or didn't allow the author to flesh out as much detail. I don't know. But despite not particularly caring for this book, I will continue to read Ms. Yates' books, and I'm glad that I finally tried her.

*Not that's there's anything wrong with that! I've been a Harlequin fan and reader for many many years.

EDIT: After writing this review, I saw on Goodreads that the book is listed as Texas Cattleman's Club: The Imposter, and is book 1, and that the second book is about one of the other women who were at Will's funeral. So apparently that mystery will be a running theme through the series. However, that knowledge does not change my thoughts about it. 

28 January 2018

Bounds of Passion (Bound, Book 1)

Synopsis from Amazon: Popular erotica writer Lucia Jordan brings you the first short story in her new 'Bound' series. This short story (approx. 4,400 words) contains adult content, hot sex and mild BDSM themes so only check it out if you are ready to get very, very excited.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, 2012.

How acquired: Amazon freebie

First line: Lydia could feel the man beneath her weakening and he was silently mouthing at her to stop – wait, to give him a minute, but she couldn't – not when she was so close to her own climax.

My thoughtsA very short, quick, hot read. Some suspension of disbelief required - girl has to be crazy to meet a stranger on a BDSM website, then meet him in a coffee house and immediately go home with him - but it's fiction so I can get past that pretty quickly. Some shades of that shades book what with the contract she had to sign before they got down to business. But if you have a little time to kill and want to be tantalized a bit, this is a good choice.