Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

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Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

From the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Susan Mallery, read the second irresistible installment in the Happily Inc series!

Mathias Mitchell’s easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can’t stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.

Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she’s not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she’ll always come first in his heart?

Don’t miss You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc series. 

I’ve been a fan of Susan Mallery for awhile now and I admit freely that I miss the character’s from her Fool’s Gold series. Well, if you also feel that way, then the wedding destination town of Happily Inc is for you.

The biggest thing I enjoyed about this book, and the author itself, is that for the most part, things are kept light. Yes, there are some conflicts but for the most part, I always feel like this author keeps me pulled into this fantastical small town. Are some pieces a little unrealistic? Yes, but I also think that makes it fun. I mean, who wouldn’t love a pub called “The Board Room” where you play board games while having drinks? I know I would love that.

Another thing that was different about this book was the fact that we have almost simultaneous love stories happening. We have Carol and Mathias, but then we also have Violet and Ulrich. I enjoyed getting a little more story in this book. I haven’t read every Susan Mallery book but I don’t feel like I’ve seen her have two love stories in one. So I enjoyed that aspect.

With that said, there were a few things I did struggle with. This is only the second book in the series and there were a lot of characters floating around. By the time I got to the 30% mark, I had met almost thirteen different people in this town. Combined with the fact that you have two love stories happening, it was a bit much at times. There was almost a point where you’d miss someone, and then be trying to figure out where you met them before. It wasn’t a crisis to me, but I will say it made the book not flow as well for me because I kept trying to keep track of everyone.

If you are already a fan of Susan Mallery, and in particular, if you were a fan of her Fool’s Gold series, you will love Happily Inc. We even get a couple tiny mentions of Fool’s Gold in this book. This book is light and I always enjoy a trip to one of the author’s fantastical small town worlds.

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Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

PerfectlyUndone

Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

A stirring debut rife with intoxicating family secrets and dazzling insights into our most basic desires, Perfectly Undone offers an intimate, uncensored exploration of forgiveness and fidelity, in all its forms, as a young doctor struggles with her sister’s death—and the role she played in it—while her own picture-perfect relationship and promising career unravel around her.

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself

As I start my review, I still can’t believe this book is from a debut author. This book has vivid imagery, but the author is skilled enough to know when to pull back and when to push the reader. The story is beautiful, painful, and yet manages to ride the line between the two.

Our story starts with Dylan and her boyfriend, Cooper. Both are successful doctors, and Cooper and Dylan have been together for nine years. Cooper is ready for the next steps but Dylan is just sort of existing. She isn’t unhappy, she isn’t happy. She isn’t really anything. Personally, Dylan’s character worked for me. I understood her immediately and I feel like a lot of other women will too.

Normally, books with the main character having some mysterious secret really irk me. Mainly because when the secret comes out, it’s never as big as the story built it up to be. With this story, however, Dylan’s secret regarding her sister’s death seems less about the secret as the story goes on and more about forgiveness, of others and oneself. I appreciated this because it made the secrets more dynamic and more about moving on and how we heal versus being about a big confession and then the characters just automatically feel better.

This book was truly wonderful. It made me think, it made me cry, and this author definitely made me open my heart while reading this book. The way ideas and feelings are presented caused me to open my eyes a bit and really see things from a different perspective. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants real characters with real life problems, and anyone who believes in the power of forgiveness and love.

 

Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham

WickedDeeds

Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham

Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe–themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe’s great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life.

The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there’s also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin’s future as a couple might never begin…

This book is definitely unique from other Krewe of Hunters books from Heather Graham. First, this is third book where Vickie and Griffin are present as the main couple. I really enjoy their characters and appreciate getting to spend more time with them. The other thing that is different with this story is that I laughed several times during this story. From the synopsis, we know that Edgar Allan Poe makes an appearance in this book and his character is really quick-witted and sharp (as one would expect).

One scene stands out to me and it’s Vickie and Poe in her car and she calls him a name; for one second, she’s horrified and I laughed really hard. It only gets better as the story went on. The reason this really stood out to me that this book still has the trademark history and suspense that readers expect from Heather Graham. The slices of humor added another level to an already great story.

Another factor that stands out in this story is that we get to see Vickie and Griffin’s relationship grow deeper, but we also see Vickie’s skills in the paranormal strengthen. She hasn’t entered the academy yet but she’s just getting ready to start in this story. If you’ve read “Dying Breath” and “Dark Rites”, then you’ll get to see Vickie grow and develop and that’s something I always enjoy in characters. You could still read this story as a standalone, but my honest thoughts are that you’ll enjoy this story a lot more if you’ve read “Dying Breath” first.

The ending of this story is a flurry of activity and I had a lot of respect for the author spinning the ending for the reader. The ending is dramatic but it’s also a little different from other Krewe of Hunter books, and again, I appreciated how this author can add slight touches to make the story different, and still stay true to the series and what readers have come to know and love.

If you enjoy reading books about the paranormal, mysteries, or Heather Graham in general, you will love this book. It’s incredible to see this author who has been writing for years and years still be able to switch it up and give readers a story like never before.

 

 

 

Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Contracted Defense

Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Time is running out and the enemy is at the gate. 

Adam Hicks may be the rookie at Safeguard, but he’s no novice in the field. Retired from active duty after multiple tours and back fresh from a brief rest in New Zealand, he’s itching to return to action. But the challenge he hoped for arrives in an unexpected form: his sexy yet stern new partner.

The last thing Victoria Ash wants is to work with the new guy—especially one as gorgeous as Adam. His relaxed attitude about their first “easy” assignment together—setting up a private home defense network for a reclusive client—doesn’t impress her. Easy usually means trouble. She’s proved right when Adam discovers that the multiple incursions on the physical and cyber security systems aren’t just glitches. They’re under attack…and there’s a traitor in their midst.

As tension mounts, so does the attraction between Victoria and Adam. They must protect their client and the research he’s desperately trying to keep secret. Working together, they have to find the mole before their defense measures, in the fortress and online, are compromised and the deadly secrets they’ve sworn to protect are revealed.

Piper J. Drake has quickly become one of my “go-to” authors, and in her latest release, “Contracted Defense”, she continues to remind me why.

We first meet Victoria Ash in an upscale bar in Seattle. She’s just trying to enjoy a nice scotch and take a breather. But nothing ever goes easy for our crew working at Safeguard and tonight is no different. Even though the night ends wonderfully for Victoria, and Adam, the next day changes everything.

Some of the main factors I enjoyed in this book:

  1. I love how this author has so many different cultures in her stories. Not just one character or something. It’s many characters, the cuisine, the lifestyles. It’s always seamlessly integrated. One of my favorite components in every story she puts out.
  2. Victoria’s character is assertive, but never arrogant. One thing I loved about her was her confidence. At one point, she’s annoyed with Adam and she’s explaining her rational. Then we learn that she isn’t someone who will bring up a problem without a solution in mind. That aligns with my own personality a lot and so I naturally had a lot of respect for her on that particular point.
  3. Adam is probably as close to the perfect man as anyone will ever find. He’s handsome, intelligent, and just enough alpha male to be sexy, but not overbearing. He does respect Victoria and her preferences on things. He knows his role at Safeguard, and has no problem letting Victoria, and her tenure with the company, take the lead.
  4. This isn’t necessarily just the story, but more generalized to the author. Sometimes, I read a book in the “military” category and I end up a bit lost. This author manages to keep the story moving, while introducing new information, but yet never overwhelms the reader.  I never get lost in jargon or too many characters. I really appreciate this.

This book is definitely great for readers who enjoy books in the military or suspense categories. Adam and Victoria have an amazing chemistry, and you find yourself rooting for both characters throughout their story.

Fatal Threat by Marie Force

cover_FATAL THREAT_Marie Force

Fatal Threat by Marie Force

Blurb:

Don’t miss the next chapter in the New York Times bestselling series from Marie Force! Read the electrifying romantic suspense novel that everyone is talking about!

It’s just another day at the office for Washington Metro Police lieutenant Sam Holland when a body surfaces off the shores of the Anacostia River. But before Sam can sink her teeth into the new case, Secret Service agents seize her from the crime scene.

A threat has been made against her family, but nobody will tell her anything—including the whereabouts of her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano. This isn’t the first time the couple’s lives have been at risk, but when a bombshell from Sam’s past returns to haunt her, she can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.

With a ruthless killer out for vengeance, and Nick struggling to maintain his reputation after secrets from his own past are revealed, Sam works to tie the threat to a murder that can’t possibly be a coincidence. And she has to get it done before her husband’s career is irrevocably damaged…

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32336122-fatal-threat

Sam and Nick are back!

So let me say this is my first book in the series, and I was able to follow the story. As I prepared to write this book, I realized I could go back and read about Sam and Nick’s past adventures (which I found really exciting because I fell in love with Sam’s character in the first two pages).

Our story starts with Lt. Sam Holland reaching the Anacostia River on a hot and muggy day. But before she gets far into her own case, she’s snatched by Secret Service agents for an entirely different case that will be even more perplexing. So, as I said before, I fell in love with Sam’s character two pages into the book, as she complained about a bridal party she didn’t want to go to. I related and immediately knew I liked Sam.

Knowing that there are other books, following Sam and Nick’s relationship was exciting to me. I enjoyed this couple a lot. One of the big things I really admired was that their roles were almost reversed. Nick is the Vice President and Sam is a Lieutenant. She’s the one that is out, dealing with some really crazy situations and while Nick is dealing with a lot, in my mind, he has the cushier job.

As the story continues on, I enjoyed seeing this couple’s love for each other. This book is definitely not smutty (I say this for readers who may be new to this author). But I liked that while this story has a lot of grit and some pretty raw scenes, the couple’s love is still showcased. There was a particular scene at the police station and Sam is receiving some hard news and Nick is incredibly comforting, but in a way that is appropriate for Sam’s character. There were several times where I felt like I was in the room and could easily see why Sam and Nick worked as a couple.

If you enjoy thrillers with a side of love, then this series is definitely for you. The mystery is well balanced with romance, but neither overpowers the other. As a bonus, Book 1, “Fatal Affair” is free on Kindle right now. You can find that book here: Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Author Bio:


Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of 60 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the name of M.S. Force. All together, her books have sold 6 million copies worldwide!

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Author Links:
Newsletter:  http://marieforce.com/subscribe/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1508588.Marie_Force

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-force

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2qIIPkz6qTCmDFlaXQLghA/feed?filter=2

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Website: http://marieforce.com/

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Reader Group: https://marieforce.com/contact/

Email: marie@marieforce.com

Buy Link:

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fatal-threat-marie-force/1124690542?ean=9780373801909

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vMu2f1

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Fatal-Threat/Marie-Force/9780373801909?id=6921939190637

Chapters.Indigo (Canada): https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/fatal-threat-a-novel-of/9780373801909-item.html?ikwid=fatal%20threat&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780373801909_fatal-threat.html

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780373801909

 

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

EveryLastLie

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

I’ve been on a bit of a psychological thriller kick lately. It’s the genre I naturally gravitate towards and this book honestly reminded me why I love the genre so much. This is a book that, although I’ve received an advanced copy, I will be buying a copy for my shelf. This is a book that every one who aspires to write should read.

Mary Kubica pulled me in immediately. Not with the mystery (which is what usually plagues me for hours on end), but with the emotion in this story. The way that I could physically see Clara and Nick, the stress, the pain, the heartbreak. Everything was so vivid; the home, the heat, the stress, the terror. You could physically feel it along with the characters. You could read, and then close your eyes for a moment and see these characters and just want to help them.

One aspect that stood out to me was the insomnia. Nick experiences it in his final months and Clara experiences it after his death. This author shows this to reader so incredibly well. Insomnia for days on end can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Everything becomes fuzzy and enhanced at the same time. You lose track of things because you’re trying to catch a minute of rest and it just never comes.

Nick was a character that I thought I would hate. But as you see him throughout the story and his love for Clara was so unending, it felt like my heart was ripping apart. Sometimes, you can love someone too much. So much that you never want them to be unhappy or stressed for even a moment.

Clara is someone you want to run and help. I knew she wasn’t real, but in my heart, I kept wanting to find her and help her. The frustration and shame she felt was something I could relate to. You’re in a mess, you don’t really know the magnitude of the mess, and you’re just wading through the muck, trying to deal with it. But you can’t because you don’t know how to, and you don’t even know what exactly is happening.

This book is a masterpiece from beginning to end. I truly can’t recommend it enough.

The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle

The Surgeon's Cinderella

The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle

From matchmaker…to perfect match?

Whitney Thomason prides herself on being able to find the perfect partner for anyone, but heart surgeon Tanner Locke is a real challenge! He wants to settle down, but he’s adamant there’ll be no falling in love…

When Whitney’s candidate falls through, it’s up to her to be the girlfriend Tanner needs for his weekend business getaway, but two days in close proximity proves torturous. They know giving in to temptation is a bad idea, but desire is more powerful than reason…

This is my first book from Susan Carlisle, but it won’t be my last. I really loved the story of Tanner and Whitney. I say the story of them, and not their story because while this is a love story, this book also encompasses a lot of the challenges that both characters have to face themselves.

Whitney runs a matchmaking business and Tanner becomes a client. Whitney knew who Tanner was in college, but he had no idea who she was. Now, in college, Whitney was heavier and has since lost weight. However, she still carries insecurities with her. For me, this was actually one of my favorite parts of Whitney’s character. I enjoyed seeing a real character. Whitney doesn’t dress that well, partly because I felt she was still hiding herself. Then we see that she’s very aware of what she eats and how the world saw her when she was heavier. I think we can all say we’re against body shaming and whatnot, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen or that you don’t feel still feel the sting of people’s words. So to see a character dealing with that was an aspect that I appreciated.

Tanner was harder for me to like. He was actually somewhat harsh to Whitney on a few occasions. But I almost enjoyed that because as he gets to know Whitney more, you can see how he becomes more comfortable with himself in Whitney’s presence.

I hinted at this earlier but one thing that really stood out to me is that even while Whitney and Tanner are exploring their relationship, both have insecurities and issues they need to deal with on their own. Finding love can’t magically fix your problems and I appreciated that a book touched on that. Until Tanner and Whitney address their issues, they really can’t move forward. It’s sort of like that saying of you can’t love someone else until you love yourself.

I would definitely recommend this book. It was an easy read and the story flowed really well. I enjoyed that I got the goodness of a love story but that the author included issues that people do face everyday. It was an all-around great reading experience.