Tag Archives: suspense

Where I Left Her by Amber Garza Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A mother realizes her worst fears as her teenage daughter disappears, and a trail of secrets and lies forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her child in author Amber Garza’s “Where I Left Her”.

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The Synopsis

From the author of WHEN I WAS YOU comes a spine-tingling new thriller about a mother’s worst nightmare come true, when she goes to pick up her daughter from a sleepover, and she’s nowhere to be found.

Whitney had some misgivings when she dropped her increasingly moody teenage daughter off for a sleepover last night. She’s never met the friend’s parents, and usually she’d go in, but Amelia clearly wasn’t going to let something so humiliating happen, so instead she waved to her daughter before pulling away from the cute little house with the rosebushes in front.

But when she goes back to get her, an elderly couple answers the door–Amelia and her friend are nowhere to be found, and this couple swears she’s at the wrong house. As Whitney searches for Amelia, she uncovers a trail of secrets and lies her daughter has told her–from Finsta accounts to rumors of a secret relationship. Does she really even know this girl she’s raised, and can she find her before it’s too late?

The Review

What a truly gripping and engaging thriller! I was hooked from the book’s first pages, and the pacing and atmosphere that the author created were both entertaining and haunting all at once. Straight out of the gate readers are shown evidence that this young woman was living a very different life than her mother ever knew, and each revelation is like a nail in her coffin as the danger feels closer and closer. Yet in an instant, the author finds ways of taking readers in directions they never saw coming, until the momentous final moments of this book.

The characters themselves were what kept the mystery and narrative so brilliant in their delivery. The changing POVs from chapter to chapter was brilliant, and the revelation of the various characters behind those POVs will turn the novel’s plot on its head. The dynamic and struggles between mother and daughter are the core and heart of this story, highlighting the delicate balance and emotional connection that mothers make with their children and the hardships that arise when children become teenagers. 

The Verdict

A brilliantly written, emotional, and shocking summer thriller, author Amber Garza’s “Where I Left Her” is a must-read novel of 2021, and definitely a contender for best thriller of the year! A heartbreaking and heart-pounding journey of a mother who must learn her daughter’s secrets and come to terms with her own past in order to find her child and bring her home, this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats long past the final pages. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California.

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Social Links:

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Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from “Where I Left Her”

1

FRIDAY, 5:00 P.M.

DROP-OFF

WHITNEY WANTED TO get rid of her daughter.

How awful is that?

Not forever, of course, but for the night. She was weary of the sixteen-year-old attitude. The rolling of eyes, stomping of feet, the judging glances and biting remarks.

That’s why she wasn’t paying as much attention as she should’ve been when dropping Amelia off at Lauren’s. Her mind was back in their apartment, her butt planted on the couch, bare feet propped on the table, a pint of ice cream in her lap.

“The destination is on your right.” She turned the steering wheel, following the instructions given by the disembodied voice of the GPS in her daughter’s phone. Amelia held it up, giving the illusion that her palm was talking. The house in front of them was nondescript. A tract home, painted tan with beige trim, a cream door, two large windows overlooking the narrow front walkway. The only thing that set it apart from the others was the row of rosebushes lining the left perimeter of the yard, scarlet red petals and thorny, jagged stems.

Whitney pulled her car over, tires hugging the curb.

Amelia hopped out the minute her mother’s foot pressed down on the brakes, as if she was desperate to be free of her.

“You sure this is her house?” Whitney asked.

Amelia shrugged, glancing down at her phone and then back up. “This is the address she gave me.” Her tone was impatient, irritated. That’s how she’d been lately. Distant and moody. Everything her mom said and did annoyed her.

Originally, she’d planned to walk Amelia up to the front door and meet Lauren’s mom. But on the way over here, Amelia had begged her not to do that, pointing out that she was no longer a little girl.

As much as Whitney hated to admit it, she could see her point. Amelia was sixteen. As soon as she finished her driver’s training and passed her test, she’d be driving on her own and then Whitney wouldn’t even have the option of dropping her off at her friend’s. It was time she learned to let go, loosen the death grip a little.

Instead of following her daughter, Whitney stayed inside the car, watching through the smudged glass of the passenger-side window. Amelia’s dark hair swished down her spine as she sped to the front door. When she reached it, she readjusted the blue overnight bag that was secured on her shoulder while lifting her other hand to knock.

Lauren appeared in the doorway, flashing a smile at Amelia. She wore a pink headband that made her look much younger than seventeen. Amelia peered over her shoulder before stepping forward, her lips curling at the corners as she threw her mom another wave. It was the largest grin Whitney had gotten in days, and she welcomed it, grabbed hold of it and then gave it back.

After watching them both disappear inside, Whitney pulled away from the curb. Without even looking in the rearview mirror, she sped toward her night of freedom, dreaming of a couch to herself and a movie Amelia couldn’t make fun of.

SATURDAY, 10:00 A.M.

SEVENTEEN HOURS AFTER DROP-OFF

Whitney had been up for hours, and still hadn’t heard from Amelia. Last night was restful. Quiet. Peaceful. All the things Whitney had wanted it to be. Much needed. But this morning she was suffering from a serious case of mom guilt. She missed her daughter. Was anxious for her to come home, attitude and all. Unlocking her phone, she shot her a quick text: Ready for me to pick you up?

Even after several minutes, no response came. Not that she was shocked. When Amelia had friends over, they stayed up all night giggling and talking. No matter how many times Whitney would remind them to keep it down, within minutes their muffled voices would return, drifting through the adjoining bedroom wall. Most likely, she’d done the same at Lauren’s and they were both still asleep.

The house smelled like Saturday morning—coffee, creamer, maple syrup.

French toast had been a weekend tradition for years. When Amelia was little, she’d wake up early and bound into her mom’s bedroom, eager for breakfast. But lately it seemed Whitney ate alone more often than not. Even when Amelia was home, there was no guarantee she’d join her. Amelia lived in her room, earbuds perpetually plugged in her ears, as if she’d grown another extremity. Still, Whitney couldn’t bring herself to stop the tradition altogether. The French toast would get eaten, even if it took a couple of days. Whitney didn’t mind leftovers, anyway. Not that she had many this morning. She’d gone for an extra-long jog and had been ravenous.

After cleaning up the kitchen, Whitney went back into her phone and clicked on the Snapchat app. Amelia may have been quiet around the house lately, but she had no problem sharing her life with the rest of the world. Whitney expected to be greeted by smiling selfies of her and Lauren, maybe some photos of the food they were eating, proof to all the other teenagers on social media that they were having a blast on their Friday night together. But nothing had been posted on her story in the last twenty-four hours.

With slick fingertips, Whitney closed out of Snapchat and checked Instagram. Nothing there either. A chill brushed over her neck, causing the hairs to stand on end. She shook the feeling away with an abrupt jerk of her head. Whitney had always been like this. Anxious. A worrier, especially when it came to Amelia. Perpetually thinking the worst. Amelia hated it. So had her ex-husband. It was one of the many things they fought about. And it was probably one of many reasons why Dan had ended up marrying that sunny, smiling, high-pitched preschool teacher. If Whitney had to take a guess, she’d say there were no skeletons in Miss Karen’s closet. No past indiscretions she was afraid of coming to light. No monsters from her past lurking around the corner.

No secret buried inside, so deep the roots had become invisible.

When Dan married Karen, Whitney remembered thinking how he had succeeded in finding someone completely opposite from her, just like he said he would. It didn’t take him long either. He’d met Karen less than a year after they’d split up. He and Karen were friends for a while, and then dated for several years before marrying.

That was how he always defended it.

We were friends first.

We took it slow.

But that was never the point. He should have made Amelia his priority. Whitney hadn’t dated at all while Amelia was growing up—she’d only started within the last couple of years. Once Amelia hit high school and started having a life of her own, Whitney figured it was time she did too.

Leaning against the counter, she stared out the kitchen window. There wasn’t a view. The window overlooked the apartment across the way. A man stood in his kitchen, his back to Whitney as he drank coffee. His build vaguely reminded Whitney of Jay, and it made her smile.

Going into her last text thread with him, she typed, I miss you.

Then she bit her lip. Too forward? Too soon?

They’d been dating for a couple of months, and he’d only been on an overnight business trip. He was returning later today. She didn’t want to come on too strong.

Backspace. Delete. She tried again: Hope your trip was good.

Too formal?

Whitney paused, thinking.

Why am I making this so hard?

She really liked Jay. That was the problem. He was the first guy in a long time she felt hopeful about. Usually by month two of dating someone, the red flags popped up and her interest waned. That hadn’t happened yet with Jay.

Turns out, she didn’t need to stress over what to text. Jay beat her to it.

Boarding the plane now. Will call you when I’m back, he texted.

Sounds good, she responded.

It was 10:30. There were a million things on the agenda today and waiting around for Amelia wasn’t one of them.

After hitting the grocery store and Target, Whitney swung by Lauren’s, using the memory of how they’d gotten there yesterday as her guide. It was a little tricky, since she hadn’t paid enough attention to Amelia’s directions yesterday, but after a few minutes of circling the neighborhood, she came upon a familiar street and turned on it. A couple of houses in, she recognized the rosebushes.

It had been well over an hour since she’d sent the last text to Amelia. Although there hadn’t been any response yet, Whitney was sure she was up by now. Probably hoping to buy more time with her friend.

Whitney had gotten Amelia a bag of gummy worms. She pulled it out of one of the grocery bags. It crinkled as she set it on the passenger seat. Amelia probably wouldn’t even eat them. Certainly, they didn’t fit within the parameters of her latest diet, but, still, Whitney couldn’t resist. Whitney’s habit of picking up treats at the store had started back when Amelia was a toddler, when she’d surprised her with a bag of cookies one afternoon when picking her up from preschool. Whitney would never forget how wide Amelia’s eyes got, how broad her smile became as she clutched the little bag. A lot of things may have changed between them over the past few years, but Whitney didn’t want that to be one of them.

After getting out of the car, she slipped the key ring around her finger and walked up the front walkway, flip-flops slapping on the pavement. It was a warm, spring day. Kids played outside a few houses down. A lawnmower kicked on. A couple rode their bikes past, bright neon helmets bouncing up and down like beach balls bobbing in the waves. Amelia used to love to ride bikes. For a while, it had been a weekend tradition. Whitney couldn’t remember the last time they’d hit the trails together, but she made a note to ask her about it. Most likely her answer would be a big resounding no, coupled with the same cringey, horrified look she had whenever Whitney suggested they hang out. Still, it was worth a shot. Sometimes Amelia surprised her with a yes, reminding Whitney of the girl she used to be before the teenage monster took over.

When Whitney reached the door, she lifted her hand to knock the same way she’d watched Amelia do the day before. A minute passed and no one answered. That funny feeling returned, but she shoved it down, feeling silly.

She knocked again, this time so hard it stung her knuckles. The girls were probably listening to music or something. Or maybe they were in the backyard. It was a nice day. Ears perked, she listened for the sound of her daughter’s voice or of music playing inside. Hearing neither of those, she frowned.

Finally, Whitney caught the hint of footsteps inside.

The door creaked open, an older woman peering out, eyebrows raised. She looked to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies.

Whitney was taken aback. She’d never met Lauren’s mom, but there was no way this was her. Maybe Lauren’s grandparents lived with them. Recently, Whitney had watched a news report about how the cost of living had gone up, causing multigenerational homes to become a growing trend. And Lauren had mentioned that her parents were divorced. Whitney knew firsthand how financially taxing it was to raise a child alone.

“Hi, I’m Whitney. Amelia’s mom.” Smiling, Whitney jutted out her hand.

But the elderly woman just stared at it, not saying a word. She glanced over her shoulder where a man around her same age stood. He furrowed his brows and stepped forward. Whitney’s body tensed.

Maybe she’s got dementia or Alzheimer’s or something. Whitney caught the old man’s eyes. “Hi, I’m Amelia’s mom. She spent the night here.”

“Nope. Not here.” Shaking his head, he came closer. “You must have the wrong house. They all kinda look the same in this neighborhood.”

Whitney glanced around. Hadn’t she thought the same thing yesterday? She must’ve turned down the wrong street or something.

Face warming, she backed away from the door. “I’m so sorry to have bothered you.”

“No bother at all,” the man said, and the woman offered a kind smile.

Whitney turned on her heels and made her way back to the car. She turned on the ignition and pulled away from the curb. The couple had already disappeared inside. Whitney drove to the main street and turned right. When she came up on another street, she turned onto it. The man was right. There were lots of houses that looked like theirs. She pulled up in front of one, scanning the yard.

Nope. No roses.

That’s what had set the other house apart. The one she dropped Amelia off at.

She moved farther down the street, carefully looking to the right and to the left, searching for a one-story house, roses lining the perimeter. Coming up empty, she swung the car around. Maybe her mistake had been turning right at the main street.

Backtracking, this time Whitney turned left.

This street was almost identical to the other two she’d just been down. Same tract homes. Manicured lawns. Shuttered windows. A sea of tan paint and beige trim. The odd red door or colorful lawn art. But, again, no roses. At least, not in the correct spot.

Turning onto another street, she finally found it. The simple house. The roses lining the side.

After parking in front, she leaped out and hurried to the front door. It was answered after only a couple of knocks.

She gasped, taking in the elderly man standing in the doorway. The same one she’d just spoken to a few moments ago.

Oh, my God.

She’d ended up right back where she’d started. As she backed away from the door, apologizing profusely, she took in the shuttered windows, the manicured lawn, the roses lining the perimeter of the yard. Peering back at her car, she envisioned Amelia in the front seat holding her phone, the voice of the GPS speaking in her palm.

There was almost no doubt in Whitney’s mind—this was where she’d left her.

Excerpted from Where I Left Her by Amber Garza, Copyright © 2021 by Amber Garza. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Such a Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman who begins having an affair with an acclaimed author finds her world in peril as her lover is found dead, and she must keep her affair a secret and prevent herself from being implicated in his murder in author Seraphina Nova Glass’s “Such a Good Wife”.

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The Synopsis

From the author of Someone’s Listening comes another thriller that will leave you breathless, about a housewife implicated in a murder investigation, perfect for fans of The Last House Guest and Someone We Know.

Melanie Hale has the perfect life. Her husband, Collin, is a loving and supportive partner and she loves their small-town home just outside of New Orleans. She doesn’t mind (too much) that she’s given up her career dreams to care for her two beautiful children. It’s all worth it.

So why, when she joins a writers’ group for fledgling novelists, does she embark on a steamy affair with Luke, a local bestselling author who gives a talk during the group? Why does she go back to Luke again and again, when she knows it’s wrong?

And then Luke is found dead, and Mel knows she was the last person to see him alive. Now, she not only has to keep the affair a secret, but somehow avoid being implicated in Luke’s death. But who would want to kill him? And if Mel finds the truth, will she be next? What follows is a sinister cat-and-mouse game that will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

The Review

A truly fantastic and engaging thriller! The author does a great job of fleshing out these characters early on, especially protagonist Melanie Hale. The author immediately sets up the narrative with Mel’s discovery of Luke’s body, and the horror of the moment quickly is underscored by the reality of the lies that she had begun to live with. Yet atop the background of her home life and showing the moments that led to her affair, the author has done an amazing job of layering the background with shocks and suspense that makes the murder itself only one of the shocks this novel holds in store.

What really stood out to me was the writing itself. The author does a phenomenal job of not only setting the tone and suspense a novel like this deserves but balances both the reality of having an affair with the more cinematic imagery that the writing invokes. So much of this novel felt like it could become the next Gone Girl, and Mel’s evolution over the course of this novel will keep readers hooked.

The Verdict

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and heart-pounding thriller, author Seraphina Nova Glass’s “Such a Good Wife” is a must-read novel of 2021! The twists and turns the narrative takes throughout this book are a wild ride, and the twist that Mel’s character takes towards the book’s final act will keep readers breathless as they eagerly await this book’s finale. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

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Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from “Such a Good Wife”

Two

Before

I can pinpoint the day that set everything in motion. Gillian Baker, one block over, holds a book club at her house once a week. Reluctantly, and at her insistence, I finally decided to join. I squeezed a cylinder of cookie dough out of its plastic tube, cut it into disks and put a tray of the artificial-tasting dough in the oven so I had something to bring and pass off as my own. Collin thought the book club idea was great and might inspire me. I told him it’s just a kid-free night for the neighborhood wives so they can drink wine and make vapid, uninformed comments on great literature, but he still thought I would be in my element and should give it a try.

I was going to be a scholar once upon a time, but I dropped out of my master’s program when we learned about Bennett’s condition. I wasn’t forced to stay home, but we decided it made sense. It was for the best, and even better than a degree, because I could write books from home and still pursue that dream. What a gift! All the time in the world to write the great American novel. Except I haven’t written any books, have I? What the hell do I really have to say anyway? Life has gone out of its way to ignore me in many regards. Shelby Fitch two doors down was in the peace corps in freaking Guatemala for two years before she married into this neighborhood. She should write the book.

What will my topics be? “Mom cleans up kid’s barf during carpool.”

“Mom waits half a day for dishwasher repair guy, and guess what? He never shows.”

“Mom tries a Peppa Pig cake recipe from Pinterest, but it looks like deranged farm swine with a phallic nose and makes son cry.” I have nothing to say. The other day I thought I’d get serious again and try to really sit and brainstorm some ideas. I ended up watching videos of people getting hurt on backyard trampolines and a solid hour of baby goats jumping around in onesies. So, I guess maybe at least getting my mind back into the literary world can’t hurt.

At my dressing table, I pulled my hair back and slipped on some dangly earrings. It was my first time out of yoga pants that week, and it felt nice. I applied lip gloss and pressed my lips together; I could hear the chaos begin in the background. The oven was beeping nonstop, beckoning Collin to take out the premade dinner he’d been heating up for the kids, but he was arguing with Ben about a video game he refused to turn off. He still had to make a plate for Claire and help the kids with homework after dinner, and Ralph, our elderly basset hound, was barking excessively at something outside, raising the tension in the room. I felt guilty leaving, but when I appeared in the front hall in a sundress, Collin lit up and gave me a kiss, telling me he had it under control. I knew he ultimately did. It’s not rocket science, it’s just exhausting and emotionally bloodsucking, and he’d already had a twelve-hour day of anxiety at work.

I kissed the top of Ben’s head and said goodbye to Rachel, who was paying no attention, and then I walked out the front door. I carried the plate of cookies and a copy of The Catcher in the Rye as I walked across the street. They were trying too hard, trying to be literary. Why not just choose Fifty Shades or a cozy mystery? When Rachel had to read this book for English, she called it a turd with covers. I, on the other hand, spent hours making meticulous notes so I could be sure to make comments that were sharp and poignant. I rehearse them in my head as I walk.

I was the last to arrive; there were a few other moms from the block already there. We all did the obligatory cheek kisses. Gillian’s living room looked like she was hosting a dinner party rather than a book club. Chardonnay was chilling in ice on the kitchen island next to a spread of food that could have come from a Vegas buffet. I wished I could hide my pathetic tube cookies.

“Wow, Gill. Did you do all this?” I asked, impressed.

“Oh, hell no. Are you kidding? It’s catered, silly.”

I can’t believe she’s had her book club catered. Everyone has wine and something fancy on a toothpick in their hands. She put my sad cookies next to the beautiful chiffon cake on the island, and I was mortified. There was cling wrap over them for God’s sake—on a Spider-Man paper plate left over from Ben’s last birthday. Kill me.

She poured me a glass, pretending not to think anything of my trashy offering, and I walked carefully over her white rug as we made our way into the sitting room. Of course she has a “sitting room.” It’s a bright space in the front of the house with vaulted ceilings and a blingy chandelier. We all perched on the edges of pale furniture. I never did quite know how to feel about these women. They’ve welcomed me so warmly, but they sometimes seem like a foreign species to me. Yes, I live in this neighborhood too, but it’s because of Collin’s success, not anything I’ve done. I guess they can probably say the same. I still feel sort of like an imposter. I don’t lean into it the way they seem to.

I didn’t intend to stay home, of course, but I still feel like I was destined for a career, never dependent on anyone else. It’s not that I feel dependent on Collin. That’s not the right word. What we have is ours. The way I contribute is something he could never handle, but I guess I don’t take it for granted the way they seem to. Gillian was constantly remodeling her house and upgrading things that you’d think it impossible to upgrade. She had a stunning outdoor kitchen next to a pool that appears damn near Olympic-sized. It was even highlighted in the local home tour magazine. One day she gutted the whole thing because she wanted the pool to be teardrop-shaped instead. And here I am using Groupons for my facials.

Even that sounds indulgent. Facials. I grew up in a doublewide trailer in Lafayette with a mother who worked the night shift at the hospital and an alcoholic father who spent his days quiet and glassy-eyed on the front porch, staring at some invisible thing, lost in another time. It will never feel right to buy five-hundred-dollar shoes or drive a luxury car, although I’d never want to lose the safety of it and I’m grateful my children will never have to struggle the way I did. This comfort is for them. This safety is for them. That’s the bottom line, so I brushed away the negative thoughts.

Tammy commented on Gillian’s bracelet. She held Gillian’s wrist, examining it. Everyone oohed and aahed as Gillian explained that it was an early birthday gift from Robert and she had to get it insured. I have never understood charm bracelets. An ugly soccer ball hangs off of her silver chain, but I made my face look delighted along with the others. After we settled in, I assumed the small talk was over and we’d dig into a great piece of literature. Kid-free, wine-lubricated, I was ready.

“Oh my God, you guys, did you see Bethany Burena at Leah’s wedding?” Karen asked. There was mocking laughter. I’d been at that wedding, but I didn’t know what they were referring to, so I stayed quiet. Liz chimed in.

“God, it looked like someone stuffed a couple honey-baked hams into the back of her dress.”

“And the worst part is she did that on purpose,” Tammy said, placing her glass of wine on an end table so she could use her hands to talk. “That ain’t too much buttercream, y’all!” Then she held her hands to her mouth and pretended to whisper sideways. “Although did you see her shoveling it in at the cake table?”

“She had those babies implanted,” Karen agreed.

“No!” Gillian gasped.

“Yep. Ass implants. Ass-plants.” Everyone roared with laughter. I forced a chuckle so I didn’t stand out. I hated these people, I realized right in that moment. I longed to leave. I could fake a headache, or check in at home and say there’s a problem with Ben, I thought. Why didn’t I? Why do I need their approval? Karen kept the gossip going.

“That’s not as bad as Alice. She brought the guy who cleans her pool to the wedding!

“What do you mean?” Liz asked.

“As a date.”

“No!”

“Scandal much?” Tammy was delighted she had everyone in hysterics.

“Alice Berg?” I asked, not understanding the social sin she’d committed. “Isn’t she single—like, divorced, I thought.”

“Yeah, but she brought The. Pool. Guy. Sad.”

“So sad,” Karen echoed.

“Desperate,” Liz added. She noticed the book in my hands. “What’s that?”

“What do you mean? It’s the book,” I said with a lighthearted scoff.

“Oh, Mel. I’m so sorry I didn’t mention it, I guess I thought everyone just sort of got it—especially since the book was something so random,” Gillian said.

“Got what?”

“We don’t, like, read it. We just need an excuse to get rid of the kids and hubbies for one night. I think we deserve at least that?” she said, glancing around for allies.

“Damn right we do.” Liz held her wine up and gulped it down, a sort of toast to herself. “You didn’t read it, did you?” I didn’t answer. I felt like an idiot. I was joking when I said it was an excuse to drink and have a night away. I was at least half joking. I thought that I may have found a few kindred spirits, perhaps—that they were at least making a half-assed attempt at self-betterment.

“I just skimmed it,” I said.

I was probably visibly blushing, so I picked a strawberry carved into a rose shape from the table and picked at it.

“Mel has a master’s in literature. Did y’all know that?” Gillian said, maybe in an attempt to redeem herself from indirectly embarrassing me.

“Oh my gosh, smarty-smart pants. Look at you.” Karen swatted my leg and smiled, supportively. I wanted the attention off me as soon as possible, so I didn’t correct her and say that it was creative writing…and that I never finished the degree.

“You should give me the name of your caterer,” I said, picking up a skewer of chicken and taking a bite. “I was gonna do a thing for Collin’s birthday. Maybe a trip, but if we stay in town we’ll have people to the house.” The subject is officially changed. Her eyes lit up.

“Oh my gosh, I have their card. I told them they should pay me for how many referrals I’m getting for them. Their almond torte is totally to die for. Seriously. If you don’t do a cake, maybe mini tortes.”

“Oh, cute!” Liz said.

We talked about mini tortes, whose phone carrier is the worst, Karen’s daughter’s (nonexistent) modeling career and Botox for the next two hours until I walked home unsteadily with my plate of cookies that Gillian gracefully sent home with me. I had to laugh a little at the idea that they met weekly, like they’d read that much. Made sense now. I tossed The Catcher in the Rye in Brianna Cunningham’s garbage can, which she’d failed to pull back into the garage (Tammy actually made mention of that particular oversight earlier in the evening), and I didn’t know if the crushing disappointment of the evening was worse than going back home to Claire’s bedpan and the mounting stress of teen angst and Ben’s moods. I wished I could just sit in the Cunninghams’ yard, drunk for a little while, but someone would see, and it would be discussed at some other neighbor’s book club.

The temperate dusk air was dense with mosquitoes and the chatter of crickets. I took my time walking back. When I approached our house, I saw Collin in an orange rectangle of warm kitchen light. He was washing dishes, sort of, but mostly looking past the kitchen island at the TV in the living room. I concentrated on appearing more sober than I was as I entered the kitchen. I sat at the table, pulling off my shoes, and he offered me a glass of wine.

“No, thanks.” I got up and filled a plastic Bob the Builder cup under the tap, then sat on a counter stool. He pulled one up next to me.

“Was it fun?” he asked, hopefully, wanting me to find an outlet—some joy in my life while things are so tough. I didn’t know if I should tell him the truth or make him happy, so I went down the middle.

“It was okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Eh. Not exactly the literary minds I was hoping to connect with.”

“I’m sorry.” He squeezed my hand. “I took Ben to pick out a new chapter book at Classics tonight.”

“Oh fun. What did he pick out?” I asked, thinking Collin was changing the subject.

He handed me a little postcard advert. “There’s a writers’ group starting next week.”

I looked over the glossy square and it had details welcoming any local writers to join the weekly Thursday group to workshop their writing. Before I could dismiss the assertion that I’m a “writer,” he pointed to the bullet point that stated “all levels welcome.” It was so incredibly sweet that he brought this for me, not only to encourage me in pursuing something I care about, but was also willing to hold down the fort every Thursday. I kissed him.

“That’s very thoughtful of you.”

“But?” he asked, anticipating a “no,” but I didn’t have a reason to say no. I mean, except that I had no writing to present to the group. I could write a critical essay on The Catcher in the Rye. That was about it. It sounded thrilling though. Maybe some accountability and pressure would be just what I needed. I glanced past Collin into the living room and saw Bennett asleep in front of WWE SmackDown! on the TV. I gave Collin a look.

“Well, he’s asleep, isn’t he?” he defended himself. Ismiled and shook my head, pressing my thumb into the crumbs on his plate and tasting the remnants of the cookies I left behind for the kids to eat.

“I guess I can try it,” I said, standing and rinsing the plate. Words I’d give anything to take back.

Excerpted from Such A Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2021 by Seraphina Nova Glass. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Third to Die (Quinn & Costa aka Mobile Response Team #1) by Allison Brennan Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young detective and ambitious FBI agent must work together in order to stop a mysterious serial killer before he disappears again in author Allison Brennan’s “The Third to Die”, the first in the Quinn & Costa aka Mobile Response Team series.

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The Synopsis

An edgy female police detective… An ambitious FBI special agent. Together they are at the heart of the ticking-clock investigation for a psychopathic serial killer. The bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for high-stakes suspense.

Detective Kara Quinn, on leave from the LAPD, is on an early morning jog in her hometown of Liberty Lake when she comes upon the body of a young nurse. The manner of death shows a pattern of highly controlled rage. Meanwhile in DC, FBI special agent Mathias Costa is staffing his newly minted Mobile Response Team. Word reaches Matt that the Liberty Lake murder fits the profile of the compulsive Triple Killer. It will be the first case for the MRT. This time they have a chance to stop this zealous if elusive killer before he strikes again. But only if they can figure out who he is and where he is hiding before he disappears for another three years. The stakes are higher than ever before, because if they fail, one of their own will be next…

The Review

Such a compelling and engaging blend of police procedural and serial killer thriller! This captured my attention immediately, as the author went about setting the haunting atmosphere of the killer’s actions in the book’s prelude. The insight into the killer’s mind and the investigation very much reminded me of J.D. Barker’s 4MK series, building the suspense and the cat & mouse element of the narrative slowly but surely, keeping the reader hanging on the author’s every word.

The character growth was definitely the major hook for this story. The killer’s motivations and thought process throughout his killings was complex, but it was the protagonists themselves, Costa and Quinn, who really added depth to this narrative. Their haunted backstories and the bond they form together keeps readers on an emotional rollercoaster as they follow this partnership through its highs and lows, until the book’s exhilarating final chapters.

The Verdict

A masterful, engaging, and thrilling new suspense novel, author Allison Brennan’s “The Third To Die” is a must-read thriller! Heart-pounding games between a killer and those chasing him really keep readers invested in this narrative, and the bond between the two investigators on the case will have readers ready and eager to dive into the next chapter of this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes that life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year.

40 books and numerous short stories later, Allison relocated in 2019 from Northern California to Arizona with her husband and two youngest children.

She currently writes the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan thriller series, and launched the Quinn & Costa thrillers this year with THE THIRD TO DIE. Catherine Coulter called it an “amazing new series” and Kirkus Reviews says Kara Quinn is “A strong and damaged protagonist as compelling as Lisbeth Salander.”

RT Book Reviews calls Allison “a master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” RT also said that “The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan books are getting better and better!” She’s been nominated for many awards, and is a three time winner of the Reviewer’s Choice award winner for RT Book Reviews as well as the Daphne du Maurier award. Most recently, she was nominated for Best Paperback Original by International Thriller Writers.

Allison has given back extensively to the writing community. She judged the Thriller Awards for nine years, served as awards committee chair for one term, was the managing editor of LOVE IS MURDER (edited by Sandra Brown), and has offered workshops on writing. She is also a mentor to unpublished writers for Mystery Writers of America has spoken to numerous writing groups.

You can reach Allison through Goodreads or through her website.

Texas Dead by William Gensburger Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A series of gruesome murders leads two detectives down the rabbit hole as clues lead them to powerful figures, and the race to stop not only more killings but a full-scale war takes center stage in author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead”. 

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The Synopsis

A series of murders in Corpus Christi leaves residents uneasy. All the victims were shot in the back of the head. But when a prominent financial genius is also found murdered, and not in the same way, celebrity detective Mackenzie ‘Maxie’ Michaels and her partner Kobe Jameson, must race to find the person responsible before more murders occur. As they uncover clues, the mystery deepens, dragging in powerful people, and threatening to erupt in a full-on war.

The Review

A thrilling new novel just in time for summer! The author does an incredible job of immediately balancing the chilling suspense of the main narrative with the humor and charm of the main cast of characters. The pacing of the novel’s main mystery perfectly draws the reader in, slowly unraveling a tangled web of corruption and power as shocking suspects are revealed throughout the investigation.

However, it is the strong characters of this novel that really are the backbone and selling point of the whole narrative. A strong female lead detective like Maxie does a great job of taking readers through the investigation process and the shocking twists and turns that occur, while her relationship both with her partner Kobe and reporter Devin Parker make this story feel real and connected. However, it is the humor and wit of the protagonist and her back and forth with the other characters that make this feel like a serialized cop show waiting to happen. 

The Verdict

A funny, shocking, and engaging thriller and suspense novel, author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead” is the perfect introduction to a powerful new thriller series and an equally powerful protagonist and lead detective fans can get behind. A novel that’s imagery really makes the narrative feel like a network show that is meant to be seen, the novel proves to be the perfect starting thriller of the 2021 Summer reading season. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

William Gensburger is the author of TEXAS DEAD, a murder mystery novel, DISTANT RUMORS, an anthology of 16 stories about life and death, and HOMO IDIOTUS, a collection of published newspaper editorials.

He is also the publisher of ‘Books’N Pieces Magazine (soon to be a video podcast), where he has worked with many different authors, as well as publishing The Concordian, a 24-page monthly community newspaper, until 2016.

http://www.misterwriter.com/

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl who disappeared over a decade earlier along with two older women returns and brings with her a shocking twist of domestic secrets that will shake a local community to the core in author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing”.

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The Synopsis

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The Review

This was such a compelling read. The author does an incredible job of weaving together a complex narrative that keeps the reader guessing the entire story. The characters feel alive and do a marvelous job of engaging the reader on an entirely different level, eliciting emotions like sadness and rage to disbelief and heartbreak. The alternating timelines and POV’s were an inspired choice, as they really help the story connect with the mystery and intrigue the author has established here. 

What will draw the reader in is the intensity of the narrative and how the author manages to weave each POV and timeline to keep the mystery alive. The story shifts and changes so many times that readers are constantly shocked to discover new secrets and new suspects in this growing case, as the true mystery doesn’t even begin until after Delilah returns home. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and heart-pounding thriller, author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing” is the perfect suspense novel for fans of the genre this summer. Written in a way that screams for a cinematic or miniseries adaption, the twists and turns will keep readers engaged throughout the entirety of the novel, and by the book’s end readers will be shocked as the final revelations are shown. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).  LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel. 

Social Links:

Website: https://marykubica.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryKubicaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryKubica 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykubica 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7392948.Mary_Kubica 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Local-Woman-Missing-Mary-Kubica/dp/0778389448/ 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/local-woman-missing-mary-kubica/1137387568  

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/local-woman-missing/9780778389446 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778389446 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488211690-local-woman-missing 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Local-Woman-Missing/Mary-Kubica/9780778389446?id=8051055467945# 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/local-woman-missing-by-mary-kubica-hardcover/-/A-81225904 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Local-Woman-Missing-Original-ed-Hardcover-9780778389446/700252600 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/local-woman-missing-a-novel/9780778389446-item.html 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/local-woman-missing 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/local-woman-missing/id1524947457 

Google Play: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Local_Woman_Missing/sKazzQEACAAJ?hl=en 

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An Excerpt From LOCAL WOMAN MISSING

MEREDITH

11 YEARS BEFORE

March

The text comes from a number I don’t know. It’s a 630 area code. Local. I’m in the bathroom with Leo as he soaks in the tub. He has his bath toys lined up on the edge of it and they’re taking turns swan diving into the now-lukewarm water. It used to be hot, too hot for Leo to get into. But he’s been in there for thirty minutes now playing with his octopus, his whale, his fish. He’s having a ball.

Meanwhile I’ve lost track of time. I have a client in the early stages of labor. We’re texting. Her husband wants to take her to the hospital. She thinks it’s too soon. Her contractions are six and a half minutes apart. She’s absolutely correct. It’s too soon. The hospital would just send her home, which is frustrating, not to mention a huge inconvenience for women in labor. And anyway, why labor at the hospital when you can labor in the comfort of your own home? First-time fathers always get skittish. It does their wives no good. By the time I get to them, more times than not, the woman in labor is the more calm of the two. I have to focus my attention on pacifying a nervous husband. It’s not what they’re paying me for. 

I tell Leo one more minute until I shampoo his hair, and then fire off a quick text, suggesting my client have a snack to keep her energy up, herself nourished. I recommend a nap, if her body will let her. The night ahead will be long for all of us. Childbirth, especially when it comes to first-time moms, is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Josh is home. He’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Delilah plays. Delilah’s due up next in the tub. By the time I leave, the bedtime ritual will be done or nearly done. I feel good about that, hating the times I leave Josh alone with so much to do. 

I draw up my text and then hit Send. The reply is immediate, that all too familiar ping that comes to me at all hours of the day or night. 

I glance down at the phone in my hand, expecting it’s my client with some conditioned reply. Thx. 

Instead: I know what you did. I hope you die. 

Beside the text is a picture of a grayish skull with large, black eye sockets and teeth. The symbol of death. 

My muscles tense. My heart quickens. I feel thrown off. The small bathroom feels suddenly, overwhelmingly, oppressive. It’s steamy, moist, hot. I drop down to the toilet and have a seat on the lid. My pulse is loud, audible in my own ears. I stare at the words before me, wondering if I’ve misread. Certainly I’ve misread. Leo is asking, “Is it a minute, Mommy?” I hear his little voice, muff led by the ringing in my ears. But I’m so thrown by the cutthroat text that I can’t speak. 

I glance at the phone again. I haven’t misread. 

The text is not from my client in labor. It’s not from any client of mine whose name and number is stored in my phone. As far as I can tell, it’s not from anyone I know.

A wrong number, then, I think. Someone sent this to me by accident. It has to be. My first thought is to delete it, to pretend this never happened. To make it disappear. Out of sight, out of mind. 

But then I think of whoever sent it just sending it again or sending something worse. I can’t imagine anything worse. 

I decide to reply. I’m careful to keep it to the point, to not sound too judgy or fault-finding because maybe the intended recipient really did do something awful—stole money from a children’s cancer charity—and the text isn’t as egregious as it looks at first glance. 

I text: You have the wrong number. 

The response is quick. 

I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

The phone slips from my hand. I yelp. The phone lands on the navy blue bath mat, which absorbs the sound of its fall. 

Meredith. 

Whoever is sending these texts knows my name. The texts are meant for me. 

A second later Josh knocks on the bathroom door. I spring from the toilet seat, and stretch down for the phone. The phone has fallen facedown. I turn it over. The text is still there on the screen, staring back at me. 

Josh doesn’t wait to be let in. He opens the door and steps right inside. I slide the phone into the back pocket of my jeans before Josh has a chance to see. 

“Hey,” he says, “how about you save some water for the fish.” 

Leo complains to Josh that he is cold. “Well, let’s get you out of the bath,” Josh says, stretching down to help him out of the water. 

“I need to wash him still,” I admit. Before me, Leo’s teeth chatter. There are goose bumps on his arm that I hadn’t noticed before. He is cold, and I feel suddenly guilty, though it’s mired in confusion and fear. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Leo. There is bathwater spilled all over the floor, but his hair is still bone-dry. 

“You haven’t washed him?” Josh asks, and I know what he’s thinking: that in the time it took him to clear the kitchen table, wash pots and pans and wipe down the sinks, I did nothing. He isn’t angry or accusatory about it. Josh isn’t the type to get angry. 

“I have a client in labor,” I say by means of explanation. “She keeps texting,” I say, telling Josh that I was just about to wash Leo. I drop to my knees beside the tub. I reach for the shampoo. In the back pocket of my jeans, the phone again pings. This time, I ignore it. I don’t want Josh to know what’s happening, not until I get a handle on it for myself. 

Josh asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?” I say that it can wait. I focus on Leo, on scrubbing the shampoo onto his hair, but I’m anxious. I move too fast so that the shampoo suds get in his eye. I see it happening, but all I can think to do is wipe it from his forehead with my own soapy hands. It doesn’t help. It makes it worse. 

Leo complains. Leo isn’t much of a complainer. He’s an easygoing kid. “Ow,” is all that he says, his tiny wet hands going to his eyes, though shampoo in the eye burns like hell. 

“Does that sting, baby?” I ask, feeling contrite. But I’m bursting with nervous energy. There’s only one thought racing through my mind. I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

Who would have sent that, and why? Whoever it is knows me. They know my name. They’re mad at me for something I’ve done. Mad enough to wish me dead. I don’t know anyone like that. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to upset someone enough that they’d want me dead.

I grab the wet washcloth draped over the edge of the tub. I try handing it to Leo, so that he can press it to his own eyes. But my hands shake as I do. I wind up dropping the washcloth into the bath. The tepid water rises up and splashes him in the eyes. This time he cries. 

“Oh, buddy,” I say, “I’m so sorry, it slipped.” 

But as I try again to grab it from the water and hand it to him, I drop the washcloth for a second time. I leave it where it is, letting Leo fish it out of the water and wipe his eyes for himself. Meanwhile Josh stands two feet behind, watching. 

My phone pings again. Josh says, “Someone is really dying to talk to you.” 

Dying. It’s all that I hear. 

My back is to Josh, thank God. He can’t see the look on my face when he says it. 

“What’s that?” I ask. 

“Your client,” Josh says. I turn to him. He motions to my phone jutting out of my back pocket. “She really needs you. You should take it, Mer,” he says softly, accommodatingly, and only then do I think about my client in labor and feel guilty. What if it is her? What if her contractions are coming more quickly now and she does need me? 

Josh says, “I can finish up with Leo while you get ready to go,” and I acquiesce, because I need to get out of here. I need to know if the texts coming to my phone are from my client or if they’re coming from someone else. 

I rise up from the floor. I scoot past Josh in the door, brushing against him. His hand closes around my upper arm as I do, and he draws me in for a hug. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I say yes, fine, sounding too chipper even to my own ears. Everything is not okay. 

“I’m just thinking about my client,” I say. “She’s had a stillbirth before, at thirty-two weeks. She never thought she’d get this far. Can you imagine that? Losing a baby at thirty-two weeks?”

Josh says no. His eyes move to Leo and he looks saddened by it. I feel guilty for the lie. It’s not this client but another who lost a baby at thirty-two weeks. When she told me about it, I was completely torn up. It took everything in me not to cry as she described for me the moment the doctor told her her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Labor was later induced, and she had to push her dead baby out with only her mother by her side. Her husband was deployed at the time. After, she was snowed under by guilt. Was it her fault the baby died? A thousand times I held her hand and told her no. I’m not sure she ever believed me. 

My lie has the desired effect. Josh stands down, and asks if I need help with anything before I leave. I say no, that I’m just going to change my clothes and go. 

I step out of the bathroom. In the bedroom, I close the door. I grab my scrub bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt from my drawer. I lay them on the bed, but before I get dressed, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I take a deep breath and hold it in, summoning the courage to look. I wonder what waits there. More nasty threats? My heart hammers inside me. My knees shake. 

I take a look. There are two messages waiting for me. 

The first: Water broke. Contractions 5 min apart. 

And then: Heading to hospital.—M. 

I release my pent-up breath. The texts are from my client’s husband, sent from her phone. My legs nearly give in relief, and I drop down to the edge of the bed, forcing myself to breathe. I inhale long and deep. I hold it in until my lungs become uncomfortable. When I breathe out, I try and force away the tension. 

But I can’t sit long because my client is advancing quickly. I need to go.

Excerpted from Local Woman Missing @ 2021 by Mary Kyrychenko, used with permission by Park Row Books.

Crossroads (Providence Island #4) by Dianna Wilkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two people seeking to escape their pasts, their family legacies and the small town life itself must contend with finding love with one another and facing off against a dangerous threat that could expose their secrets in author Dianna Wilkes’s “Crossroads”, the fourth in the Providence Island series. 

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The Synopsis

He’s tired of running. She’s looking for an escape. Can they find a home together?

Joshua Canfield spent the last year hiding from killers. He’s done things he can never confess, especially not to the loved ones he was protecting. All he wants now is to reunite with his family and live a peaceful life.

Lila Grainger has one goal in life. To earn enough money to leave Providence Island and a family with no regard for the law far behind. She never expected to meet someone like Joshua. He’s the finest man she’s ever known, and he sees her as a woman, not as a Grainger. But she can’t expect him to leave his family to follow her.

Neither of them knows that a new threat lingers on Providence Island. One that puts Lila in danger and could expose Joshua’s past.

The Review

Another stellar entry into the Providence Island series! The author has once more balanced the romance and mystery genres in a way that feels both natural and engaging to the reader. New protagonists Josh and Lila are great additions to the series. While not necessarily new to the overall series, this narrative really allows these characters to shine brightly. 

Both Josh and Lila’s greatest chemistry resides not only in their budding romance in the author’s signature slow-burn yet satisfying narrative but in their similar backgrounds. Both come from complex and heartbreaking families that have skirted the line between lawful and lawlessness and have struggled to put their pasts behind them. The author also does a great job of revisiting the previous books by incorporating the large cast of characters tied to the series narratives and the new protagonists themselves. 

The Verdict

A fantastic, entertaining, and emotional yet investing read, author Dianna Wilkes’s “Crossroads” is a must-read romance mystery novel. The new protagonists bring freshness and romantic build-up that fans of the genre will love, while the overarching narrative and mystery that has driven much of the series gets deeper and more complex, really fleshing out the mythos of the author’s world. With new relationships, shocking revelations connecting characters even more, and the promise of a new book on the horizon, author Dianna Wilkes has expertly crafted a romantic mystery and suspense series that gets better and better as time goes on. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author, known for the Providence Island mystery series.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned how to read when I was four years old,” she said. “Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression.”

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing or working, Dianna is deep in researching various twigs and branches on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.

Website: www.diannawilkes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiannaWilkesAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwilkesauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/diannawilkesauthor

South Pointe (Providence Island #3) by Dianna Wilkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman must deal with loss, love and family as she takes custody of her goddaughter, seeks love in the arms of the local sheriff and must navigate a dangerous and volatile town as a killer walks amongst their midst in author Dianna Wilkes’s “South Pointe”, the third novel in the Providence Island mystery and romance series.

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The Synopsis

She’s the girl next door. He’s a man of law and order. Can the love of an orphaned child bring them together?

Paige Carson never expected that both a handsome sheriff and a charismatic newcomer would be vying for her affections. The choice isn’t an easy one as she’s now responsible for raising her orphaned goddaughter, Jess.

Sheriff Sam Wallace didn’t lose at love. He got kicked to the curb. Hopeful that courting the feisty Paige will end differently, he can’t help but feel suspicious about his romantic rival. Is Ben Hampshire the man he seems—or is Sam’s jealousy clouding his perspective?

Sam’s determined to win Paige’s and Jess’s love, but he also has to keep Providence Island safe. More than just Sam’s heart is at risk if he fails to find the killer who walks the streets of PI—a killer with more than one agenda.

If you like small-town settings and high-stakes crime, you’ll love this thrilling tale of romance and mystery.

The Review

What an incredibly engaging read! Having reviewed the second book in this series previously, I was so amazed at how connected and intimate the large cast of characters and Providence Island itself felt. The author has delivered the perfect balance of budding romance, strong relationships, and deep-seated mystery both for the characters and overarching within the narrative itself. 

The thing that truly sticks out for this incredible read is the characters themselves. The cast of characters is both consistent from previous novels and thoughtful in the ever-shifting and complex narrative the author has implemented. Books such as this are always great, as readers are treated to multiple perspectives from multiple characters, getting to see the events of the book from different angles. This allows readers to get into the new story while also getting other characters involved that help piece together more clues and build upon previous relationships from the previous books in the series, making this a truly entertaining and emotional read.

The Verdict

A masterpiece of romance fiction with the perfect balance of mystery and intrigue, author Dianna Wilkes’s “South Pointe” is a must-read novel. The author delivers a great story in a lengthy read that will keep readers hooked from the first chapter. Beautiful imagery that brings the island town to life and emotionally-driven dialogue that helps the narrative flow smoothly, this is not a book to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author, known for the Providence Island mystery series.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned how to read when I was four years old,” she said. “Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression.”

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing or working, Dianna is deep in researching various twigs and branches on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.

Website: www.diannawilkes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiannaWilkesAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwilkesauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/diannawilkesauthor

Wrong Alibi (Murder in Alaska #1) by Christina Dodd Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman framed for a gruesome murder must evade the law and search for the relentless killer who framed her as they continue their merciless attacks in author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi”, the first in the MURDER IN ALASKA series. 

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The Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam

The Review

What an incredible thriller! The author has found the perfect balance of heart-pounding pacing in the narrative with in-depth, emotional character development. Evie’s story reveals itself smoothly, creating a tragic backstory that showcases the struggles the character has undergone to become the heroine she is by the book’s main events.

The mystery behind the murders she is framed for is handled perfectly by the author, slowly unraveling the crime and the identity of the actual killer makes for a chilling revelation, especially as it ties into the final moments of the book’s narrative. The action is great and the suspense evokes feelings of chills and anticipation as the narrative goes on.

The Verdict

A thrilling, entertaining, and attention-grabbing thriller, author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi” is the perfect first story in a new murder mystery/thriller series. A strong protagonist helps to draw out a creative and chilling story, and readers will have a difficult time putting this story down as the author draws them further and further in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

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Fender Head by Robert McEvilla Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A former German soldier and POW fights for survival in the United States, resorting to theft and murder. However after finding love, the POW joins the very military that imprisoned him and becomes a career soldier in author Robert McEvilla’s “Fender Head”.

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The Synopsis

Escaping from a Michigan prison camp in 1945, German solider and POW, Lothar Laumer, is on the run. With few resources, murder and robbery become necessities for survival, and after finding romance, he cleverly implements a plan to join the same army he had escaped from and becomes a career non-commissioned officer. His false sense of security is upended when a blast from the past threatens to undo him.

The Review

This was an incredibly engaging thriller. The author delves into the complex world of POWs and those who escaped imprisonment after WWII to lead entirely new lives. The narrative overall was evenly paced and entertaining, drawing the reader in with complex twists and turns that help showcase how the protagonist arrived smack dab in the middle of a military murder investigation. 

What really sunk in though however was the author’s delve into character growth. The complexity of the protagonist, Laumer, was intense and captivating. The character’s deep seated issues after being forced into service for the German military are highlighted in his interactions with Emma, the young woman who changes his life forever. Laumer’s journey from POW to criminal on the run and then posing as another man was thrilling to see unfold. 

The Verdict

This was a masterful, suspenseful and military-action driven war thriller like no other. Author Robert McEvilla brings a level of authenticity and authority to his writing, and captures the clash of cultures in the midst of war perfectly. A tale of survival, readers won’t be able to put this book down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Author, Robert McEvilla, is a retired stationary engineer who lives in the backwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In his first novel which is based on his 

experiences with the 82nd Airborne in the Dominican Republic.  His second novel is a detective mystery.

His short stories have been published in the literary magazine, Down State Story.  Other stories have been published in CWW Publications of Carmel, California; Twin Rivers Press of Ellerton, Florida; and Toxic Evolution Press of Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. The short story, Horseradish, received honorable mention in a 

Glimmer Train short fiction contest and was published in Story Teller Magazine. Also a short memoir of Robert McEvilla appeared in the October issue of The Good Old 

Days Magazine.

https://authorrobertmcevilla.com/