Review: Storm on the Levels (Detective Kate Hamblin Mystery #12) by David Hodges


Print Length: 270 pages
Publisher: Jofee Books (October 17, 2023)

From Multiple murder strikes at the very heart of the desolate Somerset Levels in the midst of the worst snow storm to hit the south west of England in more than a generation. On their way home from a short break, Detective Sergeant Kate and her partner, Hayden, are stranded in a lonely country lane when Kate’s car breaks down. Forced to take shelter in the isolated Warneford Hall Hotel, which is allegedly haunted by a faceless ghost, the detectives find themselves stuck there for several days, cut off from all lines of communication with the outside world.

When one of a group of former university graduates staying at the hotel drowns in the hotel’s lake in suspicious circumstances, Kate and Hayden are pitched into a complex murder investigation, which is to tax every ounce of resolve they possess without any prospect of backup and with a ghostly apparition watching their every move from the shadows. As the body count starts to mount, they find that they are up against a clever, twisted adversary who has no intention of quitting until whatever perverse force is driving them is satisfied.

But as they delve ever deeper into the secrets buried in the gloom of the old hotel - in particular behind the locked door of the mysterious clocktower - the hunters end up becoming the hunted, with the deadly trap that has already been set for them promising to abruptly end their investigation along with their lives in truly horrific style…


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This was my first foray into reading this series as well as this author, and based upon this story, it will probably be my last. 

The first issue that I had with this novel is the fact that there are just way too many characters involved. I often found myself having to re-read passages as I tried to remember just who was who. The second issue is that, absolutely none of them are likable in the least. 

Not even our married police couple Kate and Hayden. In fact, I found it hard to believe that these two were married given the way they constantly seemed to be going at one another. In fact, the first time we meet this couple, he criticizes her for her use of "foul language" after their car breaks down in the middle of a blizzard, and she thinks him "overweight and lazy" when he scoffs at the idea of having to walk to find shelter from said blizzard. 

But that is only the beginning, numerous times throughout this story, the two of them are either sniping at one another (as she tends to rush in headfirst while he takes the time to consider things), or thinking unkind thoughts about the other. At no time, did I actually buy that those two had a happy marriage. 

And then we move into the plot itself. While the story had the potential to be a page turning thriller, a lot of things just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it began when every vehicle that had been parked at the hotel was suddenly (and inexplicitly)  disabled. Or maybe when ALL of the cell phones belonging to the people stranded at the hotel (including those of the two police officers) went missing and no one (not even said police officers) bothered to look for them. 

There were a lot of implausible, if not downright laughable scenarios happening throughout this book that it was a struggle for me to finish at all. However, if you are already a fan of this series, and the author's writing style, then you may enjoy it more than I did. 
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                         Storm on the Levels is available on
                                           (for free if your subscribe to Kindle Unlimited) 

Review: A Lady's Rules For Ruin (The Lions and the Lilies #2) by Jennifer Haymore


Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Entangled, Amara (November 28, 2023)

From She’s found the perfect plan to avoid marriage…

Miss Frances Cherrington has long been criticized as independent and prickly. And she’s fine with it. Truth be told, she’d prefer to be a spinster—damn her family’s desires. But it’s a conversation with the devilishly handsome yet highly infuriating Earl of Winthrop that inspires the perfect escape from her nuptial troubles. Frances could ensure that no one will marry her—by happily ruining her own reputation…

The Earl of Winthrop knows more about ruin than anyone suspects. He’s just uncovered a secret that would tear his name—and everything he’s worked for—to the ground. Certainly, marriage is out of the question…to say nothing of his growing attraction to the forthright and delectable Miss Cherrington.

Though all London is abuzz with Frances’s “disgrace,” she’s determined to use her freedom however she sees fit. Even if it means spending more time with a man who sets her body on fire. But when Frances’s misdeeds catch up to her, the ruinous disaster she finds herself in blazes out of control, taking all of her options with it.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Let me being by saying that is the first book in this series that I have read. I thought I had read the prior one, but apparently I had read a different book with a similar concept. That fact did not stop me from understanding or enjoying this one. 

Now, on the whole I DID enjoy this story, even though I had several issues with it. Let me clarify these issues are not with the author's writing style, as I feel she was a way of drawing the reader in and keeping the pace even without getting bogged down in too many details. My problems are all with the story itself. 

My problem wasn't even really with Frances who knew enough about how society worked to know that if she were ruined, her family would also be affected, yet she acted surprised when this happened. No, my problem was with her entire family. Not a single one of them actually listened to Frances when she made HER wishes and desires known, all assuming that because they were either older or married (or both) THEY knew better than she did what SHE wanted. And even when her twin tried to help, she still did it in an extremely stupid way (why would you carry a secret letter out of your sisters room in plain sight knowing that your brother knew where you had been and would be suspicious of the letter no matter if he saw you just coming out of her room or somewhere else in the house? Why not hide the letter somewhere on your person until you can get it to where it needs to go?

Most horrid of all was her brother Charles who not only tends to like to jump to conclusions, but also resort to cruel tactics instead of shutting the heck up and LISTENING for once. The majority of the drama of the last part of the book could have been avoided if he just put his own stubborn pride aside and LISTENED to his sister instead of hurling false accusations at her. Even when she finally does end up getting married just as he wanted (and to an Earl no less), Charles still cannot put aside his pride. In fact, not only does he not attend the wedding at all, but it takes him another six months or more to go see his sister and apologize. 

On the opposite side of this, I enjoyed Evan's character and his commitment to do right by his half-brothers as not many members of the ton would have recognized that they had half-brother's much less taken them in and raised them. I also found the brothers be delightful and I very much enjoyed the way they were instrumental to finally bringing our two characters together for their happily-ever-after. 

All things considered, I do believe this novel will appeal to fans of historical romance novels, although I am warning you, Charles is a real piece of work. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                        A Lady's Rules For Ruin is available on

Review: The Duke Starts a Scandal (The Duke Hunt, #4) by Sophie Jordan


Print Length: 339 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 24, 2023)

From Lucian, the newly minted Duke of Penning, has much to prove-- to himself, his family and the ton. Craving spotless respectability, he must find an aristocratic wife. Unfortunately, he can't keep his eyes--and thoughts--off his deliciously distracting housekeeper. Such a dalliance can only mar the facade he's constructed to protect his sisters' future from the demons of his past...but this fiery passion is a temptation he cannot resist. While Susanna may not the bride he needs, she is everything he desires.

A woman with a past.

As the housekeeper to one of the grandest estates in England, Susanna Lockhart has worked determinedly to become all that is proper and efficient, and she never steps over the line. Romance is an indulgence for the upper class, not for her--and most especially not with her employer. But every smoldering glance from the surly, handsome duke calls to the long-buried reckless wanton inside Susanna. A love between them can never be, but will Lucian and Susanna risk being together...

Even if it starts a scandal...


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

I spent the entirety of this novel wondering when the true "scandal" would come. I mean for crying out loud there was the potential for one on three different fronts. His past. Her past. Or the fact that a Duke married his Housekeeper. And yet there was ..... nothing. Everything seemed to be either glossed over, or overlooked altogether. And considering how much of this book was spent TELLING the reader every little detail... it was disappointing to say the least. 

Sadly, this book was a lot of telling. A lot of inner monologues which I would usually say would have been better served as the main characters speaking to each other instead of thinking it, but in this case it was so lustful and repetitive that I feel the book still would have been the same. I never got a feeling that Susanna and Lucian actually liked one another. Hell, almost every time they interacted with one another they were arguing. But apparently that was enough for them.

And considering Susanna "fell in love" much more quickly, I would have expected there to be more feeling to her thoughts when she was called upon to chaperone Lucian and one of his perspective brides. Instead, there was more of the bland writing I had come to expect. 

All in all, there was a lot of missed potential for this book to be better than it was. But I would give this author another chance in the future.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                       The Duke Starts a Scandal is available on

Whatcha Reading Wednesday

In an effort to get to know my followers better, I am launching a new segment called Whatcha Reading Wednesday! Tell me all about the book currently on your kindle (or in your hand). Are you enjoying it? How far into it are you? Are you likely to continue, or will this be relegated to your did not finish pile? Have you read this author (or series) before? 


GENRE: Suspense

PAGE LENGTH: 270 pages

PUBLISH DATE: October 12, 2023

FORMAT: Kindle





CURRENT THOUGHTS: To best honest, even though I'm

barely into this book, I'm finding it hard to concentrate. There

are a lot of characters to deal with, and way too much telling

instead of showing. However, I can also see the potential for

the story to pick up, so I will keep going just to see what



Review: The Ones They Buried (Agent Victoria Heslin #8) by Jenifer Ruff


Print Length: 309 pages
Publisher: BooksGoSocial (October 13, 2023)

From Phoebe Watson was a rising star in the fitness industry. T hen she disappeared.

The mystery captivates the nation, and the investigation takes a dark turn when her body is discovered a year later, buried deep in a remote, wooded area.

Only one person seems to know something about those remains—multi-millionaire Catherine Bower, one of Phoebe’s former clients. Soon after Phoebe disappeared, Catherine suffered a life-altering accident.

FBI Special Agent Victoria Heslin believes there’s a connection between Phoebe’s murder and Catherine’s accident. As Victoria digs deeper, she uncovers a thick web of secrets and lies, and every thread she untangles points toward a shocking truth.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Right out of the gate I think it is worth mentioning that I did not realize this was book number eight in a series when I requested it. However, this book (and I later found all of the books in this series) are written in such a way that they don't overlap and therefore can be enjoyed no matter which one you are reading. I enjoyed being able to jump right in and immediately understand who was who when it came to Victoria and the people she was close to (or worked with). 

When it comes to this story as a stand-alone however? It was a little... weird. Catherine has been unable to speak or really do anything for herself since her accident, yet she somehow miraculously is able to say Phoebe's name? The more the story progressed, it seemed a little obvious (to me at least) just who was responsible for Phoebe's murder, although I was surprised to learn of a few other details both having to do with the present day murder, and having to do with a years earlier accident. 

There were moments where some chapters seemed to drag on, but I felt that the way Catherine's advancing Alzheimer's disease was portrayed made it easier for the reader to feel more on her side when certain pieces of information were revealed.  

That being said, when I found out that all of this series is available on Kindle Unlimited, I have added them to my ever-growing to be read pile as I'm curious to read more from this author. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                       The Ones They Buried is available on
                                            (for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)

Review: Dreaming of a Duke Like You (Duke of Grantham #1) by Sara Bennett


Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever, Grand Central Publishing (October 10, 2023)

From It’s “loathe at first sight” for this gaming hell owner and spinster, but if they play their cards right, they both may win in the end . . .

Raised in a foundling home and now proprietor of a successful club, Gabriel Cadieux hasn’t ever been welcomed by polite society. But when he discovers he’s the legitimate heir to a dukedom, he must make a choice: accept the debt-ridden title and the trappings of the peerage who shunned him or decline and leave his six rebellious half sisters to fend for themselves. As much as he hates the idea, Gabriel can’t abandon his siblings, even if it means making a deal with the most frustrating—and aggravatingly beautiful—woman he’s ever met.

Vivienne Tremeer storms into Cadieux’s club with one thing on her mind: get the loathsome owner to discharge her brother’s gambling debts. So when Gabriel offers her a trade—if she’ll teach his wild sisters the ways of the ton, he’ll clear the notes—she has no choice but to accept. But with her reputation already on a knife’s edge, falling for the duke could cause the scandal of the season.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This was one of these books that while it wasn't my favorite, it will surely be the favorite of someone else. 

One of the main issues I had with this one was with Gabriel himself. Here you have someone who pulled himself up from being raised in an orphanage to running one of the most successful gaming hells in London - when you first meet him he is very confident in who he is and what he wants. 

Only suddenly, when he is informed that he is a legitimate duke with six half-sisters that now need to be launched into society his personality does a complete 180. He becomes absolutely cowed by his grandmother, giving in to her every demand, even going so far as to attempt to court someone his grandmother handpicked for him. Suddenly, that confident man who built an empire from nothing, is being told what to do and listening. I would have liked to have seen him stand up to her more throughout the book, not just suddenly grow a backbone once Vivienne was seemingly lost to him. 

Another issue I had with this is that according to the Dowager Duchess, everything Gabriel  does reflects on his sisters (which is true), but she seemed to act as though the fact that they were all illegitimate would mean nothing to society, when we all know these girls would have been shunned, and none of them would be making the "brilliant match" to a member of the ton like she claimed would happen if Gabriel would just fall in line.

Vivienne was little better, I understand that she was considered "ruined" due to a mistake, but even she was not what I expected. What made me warm to her character was the way she interacted with Gabriel's sisters, and then (at least tried) to bow out gracefully when she realized that he intended to marry someone else. Well at least until she did what she did, but I can understand her reasoning. After all, a lot of books such as this one give the heroine "one night to remember." 

I was also expecting more from the villain of the story, from everything we were told about him and his plans to have Vivienne's father's will overturned, it seemed he was dealt with in a very anti-climatic way. 

As I said before, while this one won't be sitting on my of my favorites lists, I do believe it will appeal to other readers who enjoy historical romances. I would read this author again if she continues with this series as I am curious about her plans for some of the other characters we were introduced to.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                        Dreaming of a Duke Like You is available on

Review: Twice on Christmas by McGarvey Black


Print Length: 334 pages
Publisher: Jofee Books (October 12, 2023)

From After choir practisc for midnight mass, college sophomore Rose Grandon takes a short-cut through Harbor Park. Grabbed from behind, she is violently assaulted, beaten and left for dead.
The last thing she hears is a tenor voice singing Silent Night.

Several hours later, the police find Rose lying in a ditch. Badly beaten — but alive.

As she recovers in hospital, Rose is told she’s pregnant. She has a terrible choice to make. She decides to keep the baby.

Nine months later, she gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. She names her Mary.

Rose lives quietly in her small Connecticut hometown raising her daughter — the one good thing to come out of her horrible ordeal. She begins to get her old self back.

But her evil attacker has never been caught. He strikes twice a year. Once on Christmas Eve, once on Christmas Day.

And until he’s behind bars, Rose and her baby can never be safe.
But now he’s found out he has a daughter. And that changes everything.

My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This one started off on a strong note, but ultimately fell flat.

To begin with, when an 18 year old girl goes missing for a couple of hours, we are told that her parents are able to file a missing person's report and get a large team out searching for her simply because "She wouldn't go out with friends on Christmas Eve". I'm sorry that is NOT how it works. Maybe they could have organized the townspeople getting together to search, but the police would not have been involved that early on. Then as a result of her attack, Rose is faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to give birth to the child that was conceived that night.

I can understand her decision to go through with the pregnancy. Heck, I can even understand why she decided to keep the child and raise it on her own. What I don't understand is why that bit of information would be published in a newspaper article where anyone (the killer especially) can see it. Even if the killer hadn't seen the story, what would have happened years later if Mary did after not knowing the truth for her entire life? I just did not find this (nor much of what happened after) to be very plausible at all.

This includes the police coming to her home every year on Christmas Day to tell her there have been two new attacks and asking her if she remembers anything about the night she was attacked that she hasn't already told them. And this goes on year after year, forcing Rose to relive the horrors of that night over and over again. And of course, the one year they are caught up and don't get the chance to tell her and she hears about it on the news, her father becomes irrationally angry and drags her down to the police station to demand answers as to why they weren't informed. Why would she be? Typically, the police don't tell you about victims in crimes that happen several years after (and two states away from) your own.

Then again, it didn't seem like the police had much to do considering the story only takes place during the holidays. And I mean I get it - the attack happened on Christmas Eve and the perpetrator was never caught, but with time jumps happening nearly ever chapter it doesn't really give the characters a chance to grow, or for things about them to make sense. For example, despite having a normal (dare I say spoiled) childhood, all of the sudden Mary is showing concerning behaviors. Is the author trying to show nature wins over nurture considering who her father was? I was never sure as it seemed to be done only to push the narrative of the father coming back into their lives.

And while, okay there were a couple of red herrings thrown in, I still figured out who was behind the attacks pretty early on. But what I didn't get is how this man managed to evade capture for SO long (if I remember correctly it was about sixteen years by this point), and then just slip up and give himself away in the manner that he did. It was crazy to me. There was also one major plot hole with what actually happened versus the story Rose told, but sadly I can't get into that without revealing a major spoiler. Let's just say even incompetent cops would have been able to tell she was lying and piece together what really happened.

Oh, and one final thing that might have been corrected between the ARC I read and the finished product, but the Poconos are in Pennsylvania NOT New Jersey so to read about a victim being found "at a hotel near a Jersey ski area in the Poconos" was extremely off-putting to me as a Jersey resident. Surely this was something a simple google search could have prevented?

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                        Twice on Christmas is available on

Review: The Night House by Jo Nesbø


Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Knoph (October 3, 2023)

From In the wake of his parents’ tragic deaths in a house fire, fourteen-year-old Richard Elauved has been sent to live with his aunt and uncle in the remote, insular town of Ballantyne. Richard quickly earns a reputation as an outcast, and when a classmate named Tom goes missing, everyone suspects the new, angry boy is responsible for his disappearance. No one believes him when he says the telephone booth out by the edge of the woods sucked Tom into the receiver like something out of a horror movie. No one, that is, except Karen, a beguiling fellow outsider who encourages Richard to pursue clues the police refuse to investigate. He traces the number that Tom prank-called from the phone booth to an abandoned house in the Mirror Forest. There he catches a glimpse of a terrifying face in the window. And then the voices begin to whisper in his ear . . .

She’s going to burn. The girl you love is going to burn. There’s nothing you can do about it.

When another classmate disappears, Richard must find a way to prove his innocence—and preserve his sanity—as he grapples with the dark magic that is possessing Ballantyne and pursuing his destruction.

Then again, Richard may not be the most reliable narrator of his own story . . .


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

I'm going to be honest here, this book took me the better part of October to finish because I had to keep putting it down and coming back to it. There was just a lot happening and NONE of it was particularly good or interesting. In fact, the first two parts of the book felt like a bad acid trip. 

To begin with, and I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here from the amount of other people who have said this, but the sheer amount of fat-shaming, homophobia and sexism happening in this book is appalling. The writing also seemed a bit .... immature. Like the author was aiming for a younger target audience, but considering the nature of this novel HAD to market it for adults instead. 

Added to that, Richard was the kind of character that is just so irredeemable that as a reader, I just didn't care what happened to him which added to my overall dislike of the book. After all, it's hard to be invested in a story when you hate the main character.

But then the ending and that "twist?" After all of the time I spent slogging through this story in the hopes it would get better, it felt more like a slap in the face than anything else. There were also some other issues that I don't feel comfortable mentioning (and are spoilers) that made this entire thing unpalatable for me. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                             The Night House is available on

Review: The Mother by Anya Mora


Print Length: 209 pages
Publisher: Joffe Books (September 20, 2023)

From A mother’s love is everything. And a mother will do anything to protect her own.

I see the A teenage boy from Port Rainier has been airlifted to Harbor Hill Hospital. Critical injuries.

My heart crawls up my throat and I grip the table. Lost for words. Tears fill my eyes. Ezra?

I already lost my husband to a tragic accident.
I can’t lose my son, too.

I call Ezra again, not wanting to believe the worst. That he hasn’t picked up because he’s the boy in hospital.

I race back to our house. Ezra’s in his room playing video games. His phone died. Relief washes through me. He’s okay.

Actually, it turns out the boy in the hospital is Ezra’s childhood friend. He was attacked and left for dead out on the clay fields.

The next day I go down to the basement to do laundry.

I know my stains. This is no ordinary stain. It’s blood. My teenage son’s dark denim blue jeans size 31x34, caked in orange clay and dark red blood.

Is my son a killer?


My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

As both a widow and a mother who struggled with raising teenagers (I had 2) after the loss of their husband,  I struggled with this one. On one hand I GET it. Everyone grieves differently, and I could empathize with Cora to a point. But the way that she just allowed herself to become so consumed by her grief that she couldn't even get out of bed and tend to her son was something I couldn't understand, nor get behind. That boy needed his mother and all she did was cry over what she had lost. I'm sorry, but being a mother has to come first. 

And then she finds blood and clay on her son's clothes the night after his best friend has been attacked. And what does she do? She washes his clothes and then confronts him, choosing to believe his far-fetched story on how he supposedly hurt himself even though she knows he's lying. I'm sorry. Maybe I'm just from a different walk of life, but if I thought one of my children had committed a heinous crime such as the one perpetrated here? I'm turning them in. They can explain the truth to the police. 

As others have pointed out, there were a lot of mentions of the church and religion, or more specifically Cora's desire to be rid of it altogether while her son longs for the familiarity of it. Again, if she had paid the slightest bit of attention to her son, she might have known that he needed what she did not. As it was, when he did make the choice to return to the youth group, Cora initially scoffed at the idea, proving that once again she was not going to be winning any mother of the year awards. 

However, I did enjoy reading Ezra's letters to his father at the start of every chapter. I feel like they really gave us some insight to him and how he was dealing with things in the wake of such a monumental tragedy, and it also helped to understand just how he ended up making the choices that he did. And the author's writing style was strong enough that even though I didn't agree with some of the actions and behaviors of the characters, I was still glued to the pages to see how things were going to unfold. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                 The Mother is available on
                                             (for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)

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