Review: Two Victims (DCI Rachel King #2) by Helen H. Durrant


Print Length: 244 pages
Publisher: Joffe Books (July 31, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: A murdered woman found on a building site. Executed by a single gun shot. 

But worse is to come, Another body is found buried in the same place. 

Detective Rachel King has two victims to deal with. The first woman was local nurse, Agnes Moore. One of the victim’s friends makes contact but then disappears.

Does Rachel have a serial killer on her hands? And what was Agnes really helping local girls with?

Will Rachel’s former lover, well-known villain Jed McAteer come back to haunt her with his connections to the victims. Who will pay the ultimate price next?

A mystery with a stunning twist and a race against time to save her career and stop a murder spree.



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

While you do not have to have read the first book in this series in order to enjoy this one, there are references made that would spoil certain aspects of the first story if you do decide to read this one first. 

Much like with the first novel in this series, Rachel makes it very hard to like her. Or even connect with her on any level. She's a very headstrong woman, which might be a good thing considering her profession; if she wasn't constantly doing just whatever the heck she pleased. And not only is she doing it, but she's asking other members of her team to go against orders or withhold certain information about her in order to help her. It quickly became tiring watching her shoot off at the mouth (whether it be literally or inside of her own head, both happened far too often).

And don't get me started on her as a mother. Even when faced with her eldest daughter finding herself in a potentially dangerous situation, Rachel still can't focus. In fact, it seems like the only time she can be counted on to actually be a parent to her two daughters is when there is trouble. I guess its a good thing after all that her ex-husband lives next door. That way those poor girls aren't left completely parentless. 

Also, while I understand that by doing what she did the author managed to set up the next novel in this series, on the whole, not only did it make this novel feel unfinished, but I find it impossible to believe that the police would just be satisfied with the work they did when the supposed "head' of the trafficking ring is still wandering about free. 

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

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                                   Two Victims is available from Amazon.com


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Review: Mrs. Sommersby's Second Chance by Laurie Benson


Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Historical (August 1, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  She’s played Cupid for others

Now she’s met her own unlikely match!

Widowed society matchmaker Mrs. Clara Sommersby thinks handsome, self-made businessman Mr. William Lane is just the man for her neighbor’s overlooked daughter. He’s successful and confident, if somewhat emotionally distant, until suddenly—shockingly—his attention turns to Clara herself! She thought her days of romance were over, but is this younger man intent on giving her a second chance?



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

What first drew me to this novel, quickly became tedious. Clara is older than Lane by 8 years. And while that may not seem like a lot to the average reader, the author made it a point to constantly bring it up to the point that Clara seemed to obsess not only over her "advanced age", but also on the fact that she was older than the man showing an interest in her. 

I also feel like no matter how well guarded a secret Clara kept her ownership of the hotel, any businessman worth his salt would have known, it not that she was the owner, but that her cousin was in fact, not the ower. 

I wanted to like this couple, and I did. But I wanted MORE from them. I wanted more of the passion that we could see simmering beneath the surface and less of the tepid conversations that we got. Even Humphrey seemed less than what he could be as a puppy (honestly what dog listens so well during the first training session that they take him out without a leash when to date, he's taken off at every chance)? 

I enjoyed the way some of the characters from prior novels were mentioned in this one, but in some aspects, they seemed to dominate the scene more than our hero and heroine.  Even the "surprise" I think the author has planned for two of the other background characters was so plainly obvious that it fell flat. At least to this reader. 

However, I have seen from other works what this author is capable of. And while this novel was middle of the road for me, I will read more from this author.

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

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                 Mrs. Sommersby's Second Chance is available from Amazon.com


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Review: An Unsettled Grave (A Santero and Rein Thriller #2) by Bernard Schaffer


Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington Publishing (July 30, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  "There's a thousand scavengers in these woods."

Before being promoted to detective, Carrie Santero was given a rare glimpse into the mind of a killer. Through her mentor, Jacob Rein--a seasoned manhunter whose gift for plumbing the depths of madness nearly drove him over the brink--she was able to help capture one of the most depraved serial killers in the country. Now, the discovery of a small human foot buried in the Pennsylvania woods will lead her to a decades-old cold case--and the darkest secrets of her mentor's youth.

"Nobody trusts an animal that tries to eat its own kind."
Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing. A police officer was murdered. Another committed suicide. The lives of everyone involved would never be the same. For three agonizing decades, Jacob Rein has yearned for the truth. But when Detective Carrie Santero begins digging up new evidence, she discovers some answers come with shattering consequences.
 


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Although this book is fast-paced and just interesting enough to keep the reader's attention, I found at times that it bounced around, shifting not only time frames but character points of view without warning. This occasionally made it difficult to keep up with what was going on. I also wish there had been a bit more to the backstory of Santero and Rein (which I'm guessing was revealed mostly in book number one). I couldn't help but feel as though without even a glimpse into these two and their odd relationship that I was missing out on something. 

There were a few other key points that missed the mark for me as well, just in the overall execution of this story. However, I would give this series another chance just to see how this odd duo continues to move forward. I'm also interested to see how Santero grows as a character as right now I see her making too many waves and not enough friends. 

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

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                               An Unsettled Grave is available from Amazon.com

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Review: The Duke Is But a Dream (Debutante Diaries #2) by Anna Bennett


Print Length: 311 pages
Publisher: St.Martin's Paperbacks (July 30, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: HE’S COME TO HER RESCUE

Miss Lily Hartley is the anonymous mastermind behind the ton’s latest obsession: The Debutante’s Revenge, a titillating advice column for ladies on the marriage mart. To keep her identity secret, Lily delivers her columns disguised as a chimney sweep—which is all well and good, until she unwittingly lands in the middle of an ugly tavern brawl. Fortunately, the devastatingly handsome Duke of Stonebridge sweeps in to rescue her. Unfortunately, Lily’s dressed as a boy—and holding rather incriminating evidence linking her to the scandalous column. Drat.

SHE’S LOST HER MEMORY

When Eric Nash, Duke of Stonebridge, sees a helpless lad receive a nasty blow to the head, he’s outraged. But when he discovers there’s a beautiful woman hiding beneath the chimney sweep’s cap, he’s positively stunned. Nash would happily escort her home, but she’s forgotten her name—leaving him little choice but to take her in himself until he can locate her family. But the closer he gets to finding them, the more he doesn’t want to let her go.

WILL THEY FIND LOVE?

Lily’s trying to figure out exactly who she is…in more ways than one. With so much at stake—her column, her reputation, and even her heart—she needs a plan, and she needs it fast. Before Nash finds her family. Before he learns who she is. Before they fall totally, completely, and utterly inconveniently in love.



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

For the first little bit of this book, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching Lily take a measure of control of her world. I enjoyed the bar fight that brought these two people together. Heck, I even enjoyed the way Nash's sister Delilah welcomed Lily into the family even knowing that the mere fact that she was staying there could bring ruin on the entire family.

What I did not enjoy? Was the way that even without knowing who or what she was, Lily willingly engaged in sexual situations that no well bred young virgin of the time period should even know about. However, not only did she engage in them, but Nash allowed it to happen (up to an including him potentially impregnating her) when he didn't even know if she was married or not. 

All of this just added up to characters that didn't fit whatever time period this novel was supposed to take place in (which was never specified), and a story that while it was okay, did not keep me glued to the pages. And while I do honestly believe this story will appeal to some people, this one could have been better for me.

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

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                          The Duke is But a Dream is available from Amazon.com

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Review: The Irish Heiress (Hamilton Cousins #2) by Kaitlin O'Riley


Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra Publishing (July 30, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: The Hamilton sisters have found true love to rival any novels sold in their famous London bookshops. And the story continues, as each of their offspring discovers the perfect partner...

Quiet and intuitive, Lady Mara Reeves has always felt more at home amid the green hills of her native Ireland than in London's stifling ballrooms. Determined to remain single, she's adept at gently rebuffing any suitor who comes her way. So why is she so drawn to Foster Sheridan, Earl of Sterling? It's a connection unlike anything she's ever known, yet complicated by one scandalous fact: the man she believes to be her destiny is already married.

Trapped in a loveless union with a woman who refuses to divorce him, Foster is resigned to loneliness until he meets the exquisite Mara. He wants her as a wife, not a mistress, but he can't resist her unconventional offer. Their passion is intense, as is the risk. For even as Foster follows Mara home to Ireland, their pasts will lead them toward danger that only the deepest love can overcome.



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I wanted to like this novel much more than I did. The characters were interesting, however, the plot was predictable (made worse instead of better by Mara's "premonitions"), and I just can't get into stories where the characters fall in love without knowing a thing about each other. For the last time, that isn't love. That is lust. Coupled with the fact Foster is married at the time he falls in love with Mara? 

Sure, I get the fact that he has spent the last decade in a cold, loveless in name only marriage. In fact, that author is sure to explain this several times over as the story goes on as a way to justify the fact that these two are having an illicit affair. 

But of course, it can't be a romance without a happily ever after right? And yes, our lovers do eventually get theirs, again in a way that was so predictable that by the time it actually happened, I didn't even care. Also, by the time all was said and done, I found it a little hard to believe not only how accepting her family was of him once she introduced them, but how accepting society seemed to be considering the circumstances surrounding their marriage. 

Overall, even though this story wasn't a favorite for me, I do think it will appeal to those who enjoy romance novels. I would give this author another chance!

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

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                                     The Irish Heiress is available from Amazon.com

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Review: The Possession (The Anomaly Files #2) Michael Rutger


Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 2, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Still recovering from the shocking revelations they uncovered deep in uncharted territory in the Grand Canyon, American myth and legend investigator Nolan Moore and his team take on a new mission, investigating a rumored case of witchcraft and possession. 

Nolan hopes their new case, in a quaint village in the middle of the woods, will prove much more like those he and his team investigated prior to their trip to Kincaid's cavern.

But as the residents accounts of strange phenomena add up, Nolan and company begin to suspect something all too real and dangerous may be at play. A force that may not be willing to let them escape the village unscathed.

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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Let me begin by saying that even though I have not read the first book in this series, I don't feel like I missed out on anything. The characters make mention of the events from the first one once or twice, but its more of an "in passing" kind of thing that really doesn't add to (or take away from) this story. 


That being said. I just could not get into this story at all. I found the characters to be annoying at best, mediocre at worst. I ended up putting this book down several times, allowing days to pass before I would try picking it up again thinking 'this time it will be better'. For me? It wasn't. 

The first half of the book is frankly boring. Our team traipses through the woods finding these odd, unexplained "stone walls". There is a lot of drudgery during this, and then Nolan gets the desire to visit his ex-wife where she is supposedly investigating a girl's disappearance. But hey... there are more of these stone walls here too. And a lot of people who act weird and appear/disappear at will. 

It is during the second of this book that the really "freaky" stuff starts to happen. But even that wasn't scary as much as it was confusing and unfortunately still seemed to drag on. It got to the point where I was eager to get to the next page just so I could be done with this story. 

However, even with the fact that this story didn't work for me, I am sure there will be others to whom this story becomes a favorite. I would give this author another chance.

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

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                                The Possession is available from Amazon.com


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Review: A Nettle By Any Other Name (A Christmas Bouquet #2) by Ruth J. Hartman


Print Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Dingbat Publishing (December 19, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: Helen Marie, Lady Stormont, longs to improve educational opportunities for the bluestockings of Highgate. Though her contemporaries scoff at her idea, she plans to open a home just for the girls, where they can study without interruptions. Thinking she’ll be alone in her endeavors, she’s thrilled when her close friend Talbot Yelverton happily agrees to help her. 

Talbot Yelverton, Earl of Godolphin, has a secret—he’s been in love with his friend Helen his entire life. Though he longs to tell her of his feelings, he’s afraid he’ll be rebuffed since she’s years his senior. Will Helen still think of him as the lad who followed her around when they were young? Will it advance his suit if he helps her fund the bluestocking house, or is he still hiding behind conventions while courting an unconventional lady? 



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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Nettle by Any Other Name is novella number two in the Christmas Bouquet series, but it can be read as a stand alone if you have not read the previous novella. 

As with the prior story (Lost in Lavender), this was a short and sweet read with charismatic characters, several laugh out loud moments and scene stealing characters (Edwina hands down was my favorite). 

I enjoyed the fact that both of these characters were older. This is the kind of second chance love story that is my favorite. Everyone is always so caught up in the "bloom of a first love", but what happens when that story ends? This story is so full of that hope, and that belief that people can find romance a second time (after losing their first love), that you can't help but feel good about things after you've finished reading. It could be that I needed this book, having lost my own husband suddenly earlier this year, but I couldn't put this book down. 

I enjoyed everything about it. From these two people overcoming their longstanding friendship and finally admitting their feelings to one another, to Helen's desire to help the bluestockings find a place where they could grow, even including Edwina's escapades; this book was an amazing story of personal growth that I feel will resonate with readers.

I would read more from this author, and I can't wait to read more of this series! 

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

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                  A Nettle By Any Other Name is available from Amazon.com

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Review: Lost in Lavender (A Christmas Bouquet #1) by Patricia Kiyono


Print Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Dingbat Publishing (December 14, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: Selina Davison once enjoyed life as a countess, but when tragedy struck, she learned to take care of herself. Thanks to her skill creating hats adorned with realistic silk flowers, she’s built a successful business as a milliner. When a handsome gentleman stumbles into her shop asking for directions, she remembers and yearns for the joy of having someone to share life’s ups and downs.

As the second son of an earl, James Benton could enjoy his social privileges, but the concerns of the gentry hold no interest for him. He’s much happier to be outdoors, tending to his plants, which never judge him. His peerage connections help him secure the position as landscape architect for the winter garden in Highgate, but no one warned him of how complicated the personalities involved would make the job.

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was one of those super fast, super short reads that while perfect for a day at the beach (or a rainy/snowy day spent indoors), usually leave me feeling like I've missed out on something. However, this was not the case here. 

Sure, I do wish there had been more chapters so that I could have spent more time with these characters, getting to know them better and enjoying their love story longer, but on the whole I don't feel like I missed out on anything either. I felt like these characters were complex for the story being so short, although I would have loved to have learned more about James and why his sense of direction was so awful.

Being that this is a clean romance, you won't find any behind closed doors happenings going in, which honestly was quite the refreshing change from the historical romances I have read of late. It was nice to see a couple be able to find love without having to take off their clothes in order to do it. There was no drama, and no angst, this was just a lovely old fashioned feeling love story.

I believe this story will appeal to those who enjoy sweet and clean historical romances. I would read more from this author! 

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

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                                   Lost in Lavender is available from Amazon.com

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