It's been a year. 

 I would like to hope that for some it has been a better year than 2020 was. I am taking the rest of the month off from reading (and obviously reviewing) so I can spend time focusing on what is important. 

However, in the spirit of the holiday, I would like to offer up a $50 Amazon gift card to be used on books, necessities, or just towards that thing you really, really wanted this year, but that Santa didn't bring (the cheapskate).

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Governess Gambit (The Wild Wynchesters #0.5) by Erica Ridley


Print Length: 156 pages
Publisher: Webmotion (December 18, 2020)

From Goodreads.com: Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: The motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. And the handsome, clever duke Chloe has long admired proves to be her worst enemy…

An unscrupulous boarding school is exploiting orphans in a secret workhouse. Baron Vanderbean plots a daring rescue. When illness befalls him, Chloe must take the reins. But how can a lifelong wallflower lead the charge to save the children?


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

To be honest, had I read this one before I read The Duke Heist as it is intended, I likely would not have gone on to read any of this series. 

Although this is a prequel, I never really felt invested in any of the (almost too numerous to keep track of) cast of characters or their unique abilities. I definitely didn't feel any sort of spark or connection between Chloe and the Duke who are the main couple in the first novel. The fact that he was unpardonably rude to her and her entire family makes me wonder why anyone would choose to continue on. 

To be honest, I wish we had seen more of Bean. Why did he decide to adopt so many children? How did he nurture their gifts and abilities when they were younger? It is obvious how much he meant to the others, but I feel like we got next to nothing in terms of who he was and what made him tick. Obviously, he was into doing good works for the less fortunate, but why did he decide to involve his children in some of his schemes knowing what might happen to them if they were caught. 

Despite the flaws this book had, it was still an interesting read watching Chloe and her siblings find a way to outsmart and outwit Miss Spranklin. I think for me, it would have been more enjoyable if there was a better balance between the scenes taking place at the orphanage and the ones taking place at home (especially in their war/plotting room). I also would have liked to see the Duke begin to redeem himself instead of finishing this story thinking he was the worst sort of man. 

I think this is a one-off from this author as I have read and enjoyed many of her other stories, so I would definitely read more from them in the future. 


                                The Governess Gambit  is available from Amazon.com



Review: The Mark (Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell #4) by Matt Brolly


Print Length: 331 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 23, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: Brutal attacks. A sinister conspiracy. Time is running out.

In the quiet seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim―a local drug addict―has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there.

The sleepy coastal community is sent into shock. And when another victim branded with the same vicious mark dies from his wounds, DI Louise Blackwell realises she is dealing with a sadistic serial killer.

But why is the twisted attacker targeting Weston’s most vulnerable people? And what is the meaning behind the mysterious symbol? Still struggling to overcome her own demons in the wake of her brother’s death, Blackwell must stay one step ahead of both the killer and corrupt DCI Finch, whose meddling in the investigation makes her more determined than ever to bring him down for good.

As the body count rises, and her feud with Finch puts her own life in danger, Blackwell faces a race against time to discover the dark crime that unites the victims and put an end to the carnage―before someone puts an end to her.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Although this can technically be read as a stand-alone novel, there are a lot of references to past cases (and past histories) that I feel would have made this one more meaningful had I started from the beginning. Especially where DCI Finch is involved, I got the gist of why he wasn't liked, but I would have liked to have seen it as it unfolded (which it appears happened in the prior novels as well). 

Speaking only to this novel, I enjoyed the alternating point of view between Lousie, her colleagues as they investigated the case, and the perpetrators as they completed each kill. I felt as though being able to get inside of the killers' heads gave this story an added depth, and made it all the more intriguing in terms of then trying to figure out just who was behind the crimes. I will admit there were a couple of times when I thought I knew for sure who was behind everything, only to be proven wrong in the end. 

There is also a lot of police work involved in this story, so if you don't care for that sort of monotony, then you probably won't care for this one. I, however, enjoy seeing how things come together over time (and occasionally with a little luck). 

I can easily see why this series is so popular, and I look forward to going back and reading this series from the beginning. 

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 Mark is available from Amazon.com
                                                        (for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)



Review: Plot Twist (Celebrity Crush #2) by Natasha Luxe


Print Length: 123 pages
Publisher: Rare Books (June 22, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to dating actors. This ring on my finger isn’t real—it’s to stop any advances dead in their tracks. The moment any guy sits in my makeup chair, he sees my ring, and that pulls up my self-inflicted barrier. It keeps me safe. It keeps my job secure. It keeps everything exactly as it should be.

Until I start on the set of a movie featuring the newest hot shot leading man, Sebastian Stanik. He’s just like every other self-righteous actor…except for the way he reaches past my barrier and awakens parts of me I’d thought were long gone.

Maybe a little fun won’t kill me, but the moment this movie wraps, the barriers are going back up.

I will not fall for a celebrity crush. Again.


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

To be honest, I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the first in the series. It had the same witty banter between the characters don't get me wrong, and that "moment" where everything that seemed to fall apart came together, but I just cannot see people in real life acting the way these two did. Especially when you consider the fact that one of them is a celebrity that despite not yet being super popular is still well known. I just cannot see someone on the brink of everything they have ever wanted engaging in something as sordid as what these two did, and in the middle of a crowded dancefloor nonetheless. 

Aside from that, I enjoyed the way Sebastian tried to get to know Quinn. It was fun watching them navigate their "not relationship" while knowing they were falling for each other. I just wish (as I did with the first book in this series), that this one would have been longer so that we could have spent more time getting to know these characters. 

In the end however, I would read more from this author.


                                                             Plot Twist is available from Amazon.com
(for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)



Review: Dead Mercy (DC Maggie Jamieson #5) by Noelle Holten


Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: One More Chapter (November 19, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: A brutal murder…
When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.


My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I know I said that I was going to take a break from this author after the prior two novels didn't work for me, but when I saw the synopsis for this one, I just knew I had to take a chance. 

And I am so glad I did! For me, this novel seemed like it had everything the prior ones were missing. There was the perfect balance between "in the field" police procedural and actual action to keep the reader engaged and interested. Maggie seemed like a more toned-down version of herself, which to me suggested growth as a character and it was nice to see her not be so in your face all of the time. I think the entire team works well together, each bringing something useful to the table (and to the investigation). 

One of the more interesting aspects of this story (for me anyway) was the fact that during the dual POV (one being Maggie herself while the other is told from the perspective of the killer) the reader starts to be able to understand why the killer is targeting these people and even, to a certain extent, empathize with them. It made the story more interesting from a readers perspective, and I was curious to see how the author would choose to wrap it up. 

Filled with surprising twists and turns, a few red-herrings, and more than a couple of shady characters (I was starting to think that everyone involved in this investigation had secrets), this book was one that I struggled to put down. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and if Maggie and her team were ever going to be able to stop the killer before he finished his list. 

A final thing that I think is worth mentioning is that unlike the prior novels, this one did not end on a cliff-hanger that sets up the next book, but rather on a more personal one (at least for Maggie). This fact makes me feel curious about where the author plans to take these characters next instead of obligated to continue on the way I have in the past. I will read more from this author (especially if she plans to continue the DC Maggie Jamieson series). 

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.

                                                             Dead Mercy is available from Amazon.com



Review: The Redemption of Heathcliff by Alanna Lucas


Print Length: 190 pages
Publisher: Sebastiani Press (January 1, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: Her wild ways tamed, Catherine Earnshaw has launched into London society. Only none of her marriage-mart suitors excite her because her heart still lies with another; whatever happened to Heathcliff, her childhood soulmate?

Markus Bell left Yorkshire to find his true identity and turn a fortune. Now the talk of the ton, he has Catherine in his sights, not to woo her but to seek revenge; he can’t forgive how she spurned him.

Catherine is puzzled where the gossip dogging her through the season comes from. Until she meets Markus, who’s as dark and devilishly handsome as her Heathcliff, and her world is turned upside down. Markus is her Heathcliff, she’s sure of it, just as she suspects he’s behind the rumors. What is she to do when her reputation is almost in tatters, yet her love for him is as strong as it ever was when they roamed the moors together all those years ago?


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This is a cute, mostly clean read (I say mostly because steamy scenes are alluded to, but not mentioned in any great detail). 

On the whole I enjoyed this novel. It has been quite a long time since I've read Wuthering Heights (and since we're being honest here I really didn't care for it). However, I do wish this novel had had more. What do I mean by that? 

Well he wanted revenge right? And yet, he lets one "rumor" about Catherine drop which means the potential suitor she had dropped her, but then he feels so bad he gives up on the whole scheme? I don't buy that. I would have liked to have seen him cause more trouble for her, to give some drama to their story. That way, when she realized that he had been the one behind things it would have given them something to talk about, something to work through, instead of just falling back into old patterns/feelings. 

That is another thing that needs to be mentioned, the entire story was about growing up, and moving on and realizing that one needed to not live in the past, but yet that is exactly what these two seemed to do. There was no real acknowledgement that they had changed and matured beyond the people they were three years prior. All we got was how much their present interactions reminded them of their PAST ones. 

I also wish the confrontation with her great-aunt would have ended differently. I would have liked to see 


Markus and Catherine actually fight to gain her great-aunts approval instead of 
just running off to Gretna Green. To me the fact that they were told 'no' and they ran off instead of trying to prove why they should be together felt like a cheap way to end the story and jump to the epilogue. 


However, I adored being able to get a glimpse into their married life later on. Seeing them happy with their family was the happy ending that I wanted for them. I would read more from this author.

                                                           The Redemption of Heathcliff  is available from Amazon.com



Review: Meet Cute (Celebrity Crush #1) by Natasha Luxe


Print Length: 123 pages
Publisher: Rare Books (May 18, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: When a big shot production company plans to set their next biopic on the tiny island of Havensboro, everyone is thrilled—except me. I’ve almost got enough money saved to get off this rock, so I just need to keep my head down. I definitely do not have time for distractions.

Distractions like the leading man, global heartthrob Tom Hudel, who sneaks onto Havensboro ahead of filming to get a feel for the island.

No matter how melting his smile is. No matter how dizzying his accent is. No matter how gentle his eyes are.

I will not get distracted by a celebrity crush.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I've been in a kind of a funk lately, and desperately needed something to break up the tedium that unfortunately comes with reviewing the same genres over and over again. 

This book was exactly what I needed. Although at only 123 pages, I would call it a novella and not a book. And as such, it was not without its problems (mainly that thing I like to call insta-love where the main characters meet and immediately fall in love, or in this case fall into bed first and in love a week later). 

However, there was so much witty banter here between not only the main characters, but a couple of the secondary characters as well, that you couldn't help but feel like you were one of them. Added to this, coming from a small town myself, I felt there was a realistic quality to this where everyone knows everyone (and by extension everyone's business as well). 

I definitely wish this one had been much longer with more detail about this couple, about their life together after they left the island, etc. I feel like if we had had some sort of build-up to them sleeping together and falling in love that it would have made this one feel even more authentic. However, I will read the other two books in this series just to see how they compare and eventually give one of this author's other (hopefully longer) books a chance as well. 

                                                             Meet Cute is available from Amazon.com
(for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)



Review: Trick or Treat (DS Imogen Grey #7) by Katerina Diamond


Print Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 14, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: A stranger. A child. A liar who will stop at nothing…

When six-year-old Marcus is taken from outside his house on Halloween, there is only one witness: a frightened teen determined to keep himself hidden.

After an anonymous tip off, Detective Imogen Grey is called out to an expensive Exeter street, caught up in the buzz of the holiday. But when the police visit Marcus's house, his parents claim everything is fine. Imogen is sure there is more to the family than meets the eye. But just how much more, she could never have imagined…

What has happened to little Marcus? And will he ever come home?


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Thankfully, although this is only the second book in this series that I have read, this time around I didn't feel as though I was missing anything. And although a past case was referenced quite often, I didn't feel as though I needed those details as the outcome (and the long lasting effects) were plain enough. 

However, this book was so hard for me to get into. For one thing, there was a lot more emphasis placed on Imogen and her boyfriend Adrian that I felt took away from the kidnapping portion. I understand it was most likely the author's intent to use this as a way to create depth to the characters (and to bring to light a rather taboo subject), I didn't feel as though it came across that way. 

The policing aspect was also longer and more drawn out than I felt it needed to be with a surprise twist that honestly didn't make much sense. I also wish we would have gotten insight into Markus and his state of mind during his captivity. What did he see? What did he hear? I understand it might have been difficult as he was only six years old, but I feel like this would have given the story the depth the author was looking for. 

Also, potential spoiler, but it needs to be said, this story does end on a cliff-hanger which encourages the reader to continue on with the series, however, at this time I am unsure as to whether or not I will be doing so. 

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.

                                                             Trick or Treat is available from Amazon.com



Review: Mistress in the Making by Larissa Lyons


Print Length: 449 pages
Publisher: Literary Madness (October 26, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: The sweet and spicy Mistress in the Making historical romance bundle is a fun, “sexy Jane Austen styled”, emotionally satisfying tale told in three parts: Seductive Silence, Lusty Letters, and Daring Declarations. This digital box set contains the complete series and a heart warming HEA.

Seductive Silence (Book 1) – Pestered by a persistent stammer, a regency lord with a keen interest in orreries and boxing—but not in talking—must find a way to woo his new mistress without words.

Recently widowed and increasingly poor, Thea’s been reduced to sharing her rented room with rodents and arguing over every morsel (the mice usually win). So when a friend suggests Thea consider a scandalous alliance, she cannot help but be intrigued…though given the lackluster nature of her tepid marriage, she doubts her ability to tempt—much less please—an experienced man.

Lusty Letters (Book 2) – Hampered by his traitorous mouth, Daniel takes to writing letters to woo his new mistress, little realizing how their fun, flirty exchanges will quickly become the light of his day. Or how wretched he’ll feel when the charming Thea suggests they banter in person, possibly pen poetry—together. Blazing ballocks! Is she insane?

Thea’s fascinating new protector has secrets—several. Hesitant to destroy her newfound circumstances, she stifles her longing to know everything about the powerfully built—and frustratingly quiet—Marquis. But then his naughty notes start to appear, full of humor and wit, and Thea realizes she’s about to break the cardinal rule of mistressing—that of falling for her new protector. Egad.

Daring Declarations (Book 3) – Thea’s fallen under the enticing spell of her new protector. How could she not when his very presence, every kindness and sensual touch has utterly seduced her senses? Yet her mind insists on knowing more, such as why must he pummel his face in boxing matches and be so abrupt in person?

An evening at the opera could prove Lord Tremayne’s undoing… Introducing one’s socially unacceptable strumpet to his stunned family is never done. But Daniel does it anyway. And it might just be the best decision he’s ever made, for Thea’s quickly become much more than a mistress—and it’s time he told her so.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This book gave me so many mixed feelings. On one hand, I enjoyed the written banter between Daniel and Thea (aka when they exchanged letters back and forth between each other); I felt like that gave us much more insight into who these characters were on the inside. Which was good considering most of the time they were alone, they were barely speaking and simply having sex with one another. Which I UNDERSTAND, I mean, Daniel's stutter made speech difficult for him and he didn't exactly take Thea as his mistress for stimulating conversation.

HOWEVER. This oversight makes it increasingly hard to believe that these two were able to fall in love with one another in just under a week. I feel like they had definite chemistry in the bedroom, and her understanding and peaceful nature helped to steady him outside of it, but on the whole it felt like they were only marrying to be able to be around each other all the time. 

With the sudden ending to this story, I feel like an epilogue would have served to better showcase the love between these two, whether it be a glimpse into their wedding day, or better yet, a glimpse into their lives several years down the road. What was life like for them once the "honeymoon" was over? 

Another thing I found interesting about this novel is that while it focuses on Daniel and Thea, I was more interested in what was going on with his sister Ellie and her husband Wylde, and to a lesser extent, Daniel's friend Penry and his mistress Sarah. What was going on in their lives? 

I have a feeling it was purposely done this way to entice the reader to purchase their stories as well (if they are written as of yet), and honestly? I enjoyed this one just enough that I may just do that. 

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.

                                                                 Mistress in the Making is available from Amazon.com


Review: Marked Man (Joe Gunther #32) by Archer Mayor


Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (October 12, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: In Archer Mayor's Marked Man, the death of a local millionaire becomes suspicious when Joe Gunther learns that he was not who he claimed.

A year ago, local philanthropist and millionaire Nathan Lyon died a natural death in his sprawling mansion, a 150,000 square foot converted mill, surrounded by his loving, attentive family. Or so it seemed at the time. Now Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team has discovered that almost nothing about that story was true. Nathan Lyon was actually Nick Bianchi from Providence, Rhode Island. His money came from Mafia-tainted sources. And his family now seems to be dying themselves and their deaths are now revealed to be murders.

As Gunther's team desperately works to uncover what is going on at The Mill, who is responsible and what they are trying to accomplish, Joe himself travels to Rhode Island to look into the original source of the money. While the police are doing their jobs, private investigator Sally Kravitz teams up with reporter Rachel Reiling to expose the truth behind this tangled and expanding web of duplicity, greed, and obsession. Having betrayed many, it's no surprise that Nathan Lyon was a marked man. But now Gunther has to figure out who, among the many, killed him, and stop them before their killing spree claims another.

My Rating: 1 star out of 5

Let me begin by saying that this is the FIRST book in the series that I have read. And sadly, for being the thirty-second book in a series, I felt that the main group characters felt very one-dimensional and under developed. I didn't feel like I had missed anything by not reading any of the other books either, which was very surprising. 

Sadly, for me this book was just too much. There were too many characters thrown into the pot to be able to keep track of them (much less care about them). In fact, I think the author even got confused as they bounce back and forth between Gene having been Monica's son that she gave up for adoption, then saying that Nathan was just a "donor" to Gene's mother. If the author can't keep their own characters straight, how am I as the reader? 

There were also too many story-lines, which I'm sure intersected at some point, and possibly even in a creative way, but after three days of trying to get through this story, I just couldn't force myself to pick it up anymore. 

I think a lot of this has to do with the overly lengthy descriptions we are given. In some areas, it felt more like I was reading from a history book than one meant to be entertaining, here is a passage from the story that I picked at random for an example, "As suggestive as that was of nineteenth-century sweatshops factories, spewing pollution and working women and children to death, the reality today was mostly modern American Bland - shopping malls, commercial strips, auto graveyards, and converted factories, closing around pockets of sedate, middle-class neighborhoods that stuck like barnacles to the river's banks"

There were a lot of instances of the author going on those long-winded tangents about the area, taking up page after page of things that (for me at least) seemed completely unrelated to the story or the characters. In fact, I found myself skimming a lot of these passages in an attempt to get back to the story itself, but in the end had to give up for the sake of my sanity. 

My best advice? If you're a long-time fan of the series, give it a shot. If you're looking for a fast-paced police procedural? You might want to skip this one. 

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.

                                                                             Marked Man is available from Amazon.com


Review: The Family Tree by Steph Mullin & Nicole Mabry


Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (June 21, 2021)

From Goodreads.com: The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree…

Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer…

The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies.

Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?

A gripping, original thriller for fans of My Lovely Wife, Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and anyone who’s ever wondered what their family tree might be hiding…


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

This book was a big let down considering how intriguing the premise is (and the fact that it was co-written by two authors). 

The characters are not likeable at all - with the exception of possibly Rosie and Travis (although does he never need his car), but given the fact that we don't see a whole lot of them it's hard to say for certain. We spent the most time with Andie and Liz, who for supposedly being 27 years old, certainly don't act like it. Instead they act like spoiled teenagers, although I have to say that Liz definitely wins the award for most self-absorbed character who is determined to die via sheer idiocy. I hated the way she treated her adoptive family, who only wanted the best for her. 

It doesn't matter how many times she is warned away from getting too close to her biological family at this point (knowing one of them is a potential serial killer), not only does she continue to visit with them, but she even snoops through their things in an effort to "prove or disprove" if they are in fact a serial killer, going so far as to travel ALONE to a remote cabin in the woods. 

And of course, even though we are given two perfectly good suspects, one is made to look more likely than the other. I'm also kind of confused as to what happened with Adam. Did Liz ever meet up with him? What was his deal? He was there for a minute, and then gone never to be heard about again. 

What is worse is that even though we are given these two perfectly logical suspects, it was so glaring obvious who the killer was that I'm surprised the FBI didn't clue into the possibility sooner given that all the clues were right there. I'm also rather surprised at how open they were with sharing details of an active case with someone they knew was related to the killer. How did they know they could trust her? 

The plot seemed like it was all over the place, partly due to the fact that the chapters jumped not only years, but also who was telling the story. We got to hear from Liz and Addie in the present, and then each of the different "victims" that had been taken over the years. Even their chapters, while less whiny didn't leave me on the edge of my seat the way I had hoped. And that epilogue? Yeah, was not a fan of the way they added that in, although it seems like they are leaving the possibility open for a sequel, it is not one that I will be reading anytime soon.

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 Family Tree is available from Amazon.com


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