Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: September 13, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Abducted.
Terrorized.
Imprisoned.

At nineteen-years-old, college student Josie Stratton was kidnapped by a madman and held shackled for ten months in an abandoned warehouse before she finally escaped her hellish prison.

Eight years later, when the body of a young woman is found chained in the basement of a vacant house, Cincinnati Police Detective Zach Copeland is instantly reminded of the crime committed against Josie Stratton. Zach was just a rookie on the perimeter of that case, but he’s never forgotten the traumatized woman with the haunted eyes.

As more information emerges, the crimes take on an even more sinister similarity. But Josie’s attacker died by suicide. Does the city have a copycat on its hands? A killer who picked up where the original perpetrator left off? Or are they facing something far more insidious?

Josie has spent the last eight years attempting to get her life back on track, but now there’s a very real chance she could be the unknown suspect’s next target. As Zach vows to keep her safe, and Josie finds herself responding to him in a way she hasn’t responded to any man in almost a decade, the investigation takes on an even more complex edge of danger.

As past and present collide, Josie and Zach are thrust toward a shocking and chilling truth. A revelation that threatens not only Josie’s life, but everything she’s been fighting so desperately to reclaim.

Review –

This story is told in the past and present, from the third person (I know some people have trouble connecting to this POV, but I felt the author did a great job in building an emotional connection with the heroine).
In the past . . .
We learn of the horrific abduction and torture of a young college student, Josie Stratton.  This part of the book is haunting in its simplicity.  The author doesn’t delve into the specifics of Josie’s torture, but we know that she is chained to the wall, raped, and nearly starved to within an inch of her life (the assailant drew this part out, making it that much more disturbing).
Given that there is a present that features Josie, alternating with chapters from the past, we can assume that there is at least somewhat of a happy ending for her (she doesn’t die).  But her journey and what she loses along the way, cannot be forgotten.
In the present . . .
About that happy ending I just mentioned . . . forget it.  After another woman is found, this one dead, and the particular details are revealed about her condition, the police are concerned they have a copycat on their hands.  Even though the original kidnapper is dead, they understand that Josie may be at risk once again. And that’s what brings Detective Zach Copeland to Josie’s doorstep.
There is an immediate connection between Josie and Zach that runs deeper than a physical connection.  On Josie’s part, it is the first time she’s found comfort with a man since her abduction.  On Zach’s part, he sees a woman that has survived the worst circumstances and rather than fold under the weight of it all, is fighting to regain her life.  There is admiration for her strength.  Although he doesn’t regard her as weak, he knows he can’t take any risks as more bodies are discovered.
At some point, like the characters in this story, I began to question on whether the right person was identified as the kidnapper in the past.  I think I sorted that out before any big revelation was made, but I had no clue who the serial killer was in the present.  The author does a great job on slowly revealing connections between the victims and ultimately the killer.  I loved the big twist with the killer’s identification, and how the author wraps up the  story.  Very unexpected!
The author did a phenomenal job of building this thriller, with a heroine that you want to cheer for every step of the way.  Whether you are a fan of this author, or this genre, this one is worth checking out!

 

 

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: November 5, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Review –

Some family secrets should never see the light of day. In Lisa Jewell’s thrilling, addictive new release, a surprise inheritance sends a young woman on a journey into her own personal history—and what she discovers might be deadly.

Libby Jones always dreamed of learning more about her origins. One day, not long after turning 25, Libby comes home to find an envelope waiting for her, its contents revealing the true identity of her birth parents… and the fact that she has inherited their vast mansion in a posh London neighborhood. Libby’s life suddenly seems to be changing for the better. But by claiming this inheritance, Libby is claiming a darker inheritance, too: a connection to an unsolved crime and an obscure, cult-like society, one which has been waiting, biding its time, until Libby makes herself known.

Meanwhile, in alternating narratives, we’re introduced to Libby’s sister, Lucy Lamb, who’s on the verge of homelessness with her two children in the south of France, and her brother, Henry Lamb, who’s attempting to recall the last few disturbing years with his parents during which they lost their wealth and were manipulated into letting friends move into their home. These friends included the controlling but charismatic David Thomsen, who moved his own wife and two children into the rooms upstairs. Henry also remembers his painful adolescent confusion as he became wildly infatuated with Phineas, David’s teenage son. Meanwhile, Libby connects with Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the story about her family, and the pair work together to find her brother and sister, determine what happened when she was an infant, and uncover who has recently been staying in the vacant house waiting for Libby to return. As the author moves back and forth from the past to the present, the narratives move swiftly toward convergence in her signature style, there are surprising twists, but this one was missing the page-turning magic that I loved in her previous novels. It is still a solid and entertaining read and still deserves a solid four stars.

 

 

 

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

Evil by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: May 12, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

You know that group of people in school that everyone fears? Popular. Beautiful. The in-crowd?
That was my family. Kind of.
We were above that group. We held court over everyone else. We were the best looking. We were the mysterious and elusive ones. Most of the girls wanted to (and did) date the guys, but they didn’t want to be one of us. They couldn’t be. They were our prey.
We were the feared.
But like every family, nothing is as it seems. That was my truth.
Kellan was in his own league. He was our leader and he was the one no one messed with. No one dared. He was ruthless, powerful, and no one could match him…
Except for me.
I was about to find out just how different I was from my family.

**Evil is a full-length paranormal romance stand-alone.
**This book contains adult/mature young adult situations.

Review –

Not a fan of paranormal romance, but I’m on a Tijan reading frenzy so gave this one a try.

I started, stopped, contemplated whether I should continue, forced myself to continue because I had to know how it ends, got confused, frustrated, and then just deleted it as soon as I read the end. I initially thought this was a “The Walking Dead” version of “Twilight.” You know, where it’s more gory, more sexy, more adult. Turns out: it’s not.

Sexy? No. Bits and pieces of the romance and lust between Kellan and Shay peek out, but — meh. Adult? Nope, it’s really just high school with demons and angels in it. How the story got from the beginning to the end was just a whole lotta “WTH is going on.” What I liked about Tijan’s  books is they are fast-paced. Her writing style is fluid and easy-to-read. She kept me wanting to know what happened next. I normally like twists that I could not predict. There were lots of those in Evil, but the same twists were just… forced, I think. They don’t “fit” well. They were abrupt, unbelievable, and psychopathic in nature. Yes, I know: “psychopathic” fits with “Evil.” But, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy the whole story’s revelation and ending.

Good should triumph over Evil, that’s what we all constantly hope for. In Tijan’s “Evil,” Evil won, ’cause I sure as hell don’t think Kellan and Shay are good.

Will I read another PR again? I doubt it.

 

Slashes in the Snow (Baum Squad Novel #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Ky
Three years ago my father walked away. Away from our MC club, all his responsibilities, and me. We haven’t spoken since the day he handed me the keys to the kingdom.

Shoved them down my throat was more like it.

I hate him, and the new family he’s playing house with. He left his entire life behind for a woman he barely knows. But I’m strong, resilient, and don’t need a damn soul to survive.
At least, that’s what I thought…until she walked into my bar.

Kira
Someone is watching me. I can feel it. I wake up in the middle of the night freaked out of my mind, paranoid a stranger is there. My skin prickles every time I leave my house, because I know someone is following me.
I’m afraid. Alone. And there’s only one person left to turn to.

The stepbrother I never met. The man my stepfather speaks so highly about, but never sees. He’s the president of a notorious motorcycle club, and exactly the kind of person I need to protect me.

Little did I know, Ky Parish, freakin’ hates my guts.

Review –

Slashes in the Snow is an enemies to lovers, stepbrother romance, romantic suspense (emphasis on romance) with dark elements and a motorcycle club throw in for good measure.  What more could a female reader ask for?

Fantastic read!

 

 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Book Description:

Published: September 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review –

Beautiful and bewitching, An Enchantment of Ravens ,weaves together a story like no other. Combining loveable characters, beautiful descriptions and an ever-changing plot. The author’s book and the world she created entranced me from the first account of Isobel’s art. This world was wonderfully constructed, including tiny bits, like Isobel’s once-goat-now-human sisters, that made this world so much more complete and immersive. Every action or choice made complete sense based on this world that was developed, so I was able to understand and sympathize with everything Isobel was going through.

Beyond Isobel, Rook was the kind of love interest you can’t help but fall in love with, and by the end of his initial introduction scene, I knew he was going to be wonderful. Isobel’s intelligent and courageous attitude combined with Rook’s protective and kind yet vain personality brought dialogue that made me laugh out loud and heart-wrenching moments that brought tears to my eyes. Even supporting characters like Isobel’s loyal customer Gadfly, or her scoundrel sisters, May and March, added a crazy  unique sense of life to the novel.

Beyond my love for the characters, I was consistently impressed by how well developed this world was. Most fantasy novels, similar to this one, are built into a series, and take several books before the world and conflict is fully understood. This novel did an amazing job of creating an in-depth and captivating plot, without seeming rushed. Similarly, each court — Autumn, Winter, Summer and Spring — were introduced in various parts in the novel, and each description was mesmerizing in its own way.

To sum up, An Enchantment of Ravens, is a fascinating  novel, with entrancing characters and a fast-paced plot. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

Five stars and  I  love  the  cover.

 

The Baby (The Boss #6) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: November 10, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

When life unravels, someone has to wind it up again. Sophie Scaife has found herself in such a position one time too many. She should be celebrating a new year and bountiful success; instead, she’s trying desperately to hold her world together as it tears apart.

For Sophie and her husband, billionaire Neil Elwood, coupling the domesticity of marriage and their steamy games of Dominance and submission comes naturally. Rekindling their sinfully kinky affair with an old flame makes their passion burn hotter than ever, and Neil’s lust for Sophie is matched only by his drive in undertaking an ambitious new philanthropic venture.

But in the wake of Neil’s greatest triumph comes a staggering life change neither of them are prepared for. Overnight, Sophie finds herself in a new reality, wholly unlike the life she’d planned. As emotions run high, Sophie struggles to reconcile the husband she cherishes with a man she no longer knows; a man she loves too much to let go without a fight…

Content warning: contains mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, as well as recovery.

Review –

I will start by saying that this book GUTTED me.

It’s difficult to give you an overview of all of the emotions I have without entirely spoiling the book. I will simply leave you with this: Sophie’s growth as a character can only be matched by Neil’s own regression into a very difficult place. Even writing about this brings a little tear to my eye, because… in all of the eloquent phrasing I have at my disposal: FEELINGS is all I can write.

The pace of this book continues to be just quick enough to allow a breather between chapters before the plunge back into horror continues. That seems weird to write as I’m staring at a picture of the cover. As with all of her books, Barnette has this way of wrapping characters into your heart and then summarily tearing apart their lives. This book is no exception. In my minds eye, I can picture the scene that renders asunder Neil and Sophie’s lives playing out. Other events that play out…. later (aren’t you so happy I’m so spoiler free?) are even worse. It… It might be the most emotional book in the Boss series yet, and if you’ve read any of the other ones – you know that’s not an easy feat to beat.

By the title and the cover I thought Sophia would end up pregnant again and this time decide to have the baby. That is NOT what happens. I cried buckets of tears and had to stop listening for a while when I heard the horrific scenes and felt the heart break.

Later when Sophia finds the note I scream at her to HURRY,GET TO NEIL BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. More tears.

Best book of the series so far for all the FEELS.   Five stars!!!!!

You HAVE got to read this series, BUT start at the beginning to get the full picture.

 

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Review –

Usually when a debut author writes a second book I don’t really expect it to be as good as the first, BUT, Alice Feeney has written a second book that, in my opinion, out shines the previous Sometimes I Lie.

Holy H*ll !!! Just finished I Know Who You Are and my head is spinning.

Aimee,(the unreliable narrator) an actress whose husband has disappeared after an argument. The police notice she’s not very upset about it. Is she being gaslighted? Does she drink too much? Is she a killer? Yes, to all three.

Aimee is a wounded and insecure soul, born Ciara to a poor family in Ireland. Her mother died in childbirth, and both Ciara and her alcoholic father blame her for killing her mother.

Five-year-old Ciara runs away and is kidnapped by a manipulative numbers-runner named Maggie, who renames her Aimee, after another child who died in unclear circumstances (unsolved mysteries abound in this book). Maggie proceeds to treat Ciara/Aimee with such depraved cruelty that she makes Cinderella’s stepmother look like Mother Teresa.

Two episodes, in particular, stand out: One involves a McDonald’s Happy Meal that will make the treat hard to choke down on your next trip to the drive-through, and another involves a pet hamster and a deep fryer. Need I say MORE?

Aimee survives life with Maggie and John, her predatory partner in crime, until a robbery attempt ends in a bloodbath. Fast forward twenty years, and Aimee is a rising actress, able to shape-shift her way through various roles – an opportunity for the author to weigh in on the familiar symbolism of the masks we wear each day.

The ending isn’t a just twist, it’s a triple axel and depending on how seriously you take things you will be appalled by the “yucky” or “eewww” factor. Myself, I read for my pleasure and enjoyment and I always enjoy a well written book, no matter the subject matter or ending.

Be aware that there may be triggers for some because included in the book child abuse, marital rape and incest.

I gave the book 4 3/4 stars because there were too many questions left unanswered and I won’t spoil the book by saying what they were.

 

Claimed (Decadence After Dark #2) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: March 8, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

With one look he consumed me.
With one touch he marked me.
With one kiss he owned me.
With one whisper he claimed me.

“No matter where you go or who you’re with, you’ll always be mine.”

Ellie Stevens thought she had moved on from the domineering man who abducted her. Now living in Hawaii and following her dreams, no one is going to keep her down. But things aren’t always as they seem.

Kayne Rivers reluctantly let Ellie go, but just because she’s gone now, doesn’t mean she’ll be gone forever. She is his, and he won’t stop until he’s reclaimed her as his own.

***Content Warning***
Claimed is a dark erotic romance. Please pay close attention to the use of the words dark, erotic, and romance. It has intense sexual situations, a Master/slave relationship, mild abuse and some violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Review –

Great ending to Kayne and Ellie’s HEA. A little suspense, a lot of romance, hot sex, and kinky hot sex. Plus we get to see more of Jett and his girl London. Beware there’s a four-some in this part as well as some F/F. Don’t really like that he makes her crawl around.

Ellie was so much stronger in this book and got out of her own head enough to just be herself and be honest about what she wanted. Kayne  was very dominating in an almost wicked way in Owned but in this book he was no longer wicked, just in love and his need was more devouring than dark. I loved that Jet and  London were a big part of this book too. Besides all the feels this book had a TON of sex! Like A TON!!!! It was hot, exciting and adventurous.

Muffy and  Sam are both incredible narrators and they seriously didn’t disappoint in this book. I could listen to them both all day every day! This is about 90% Muffy & 10% Sam which was okay with me since she does a great male voice too!

 

Owned ( Decadence After Dark #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

“I like you collared, baby. I like you naked, I like you mine.”

Ellie Stevens has lusted over Kayne Roberts since he first walked into the import/export company she works for a little over a year ago. As Expo’s most important client, Ellie has always kept a safe distance from the man with the majestic blue eyes – until temptation finally gets the better of her. Impulsively, Ellie invites Kayne to one of Expo’s infamous company parties her flamboyant boss is notorious for throwing. Unbeknownst to Ellie, the god in the Armani suit isn’t just the suave entrepreneur he portrays himself to be. Underneath the professional exterior is a man with a secret life, dark desires, and nefarious contacts.

In a hidden corner of a trendy New York City lounge, the spark kindling between the two of them ignites. Unable to resist the sinful attraction, Ellie agrees to leave with Kayne, believing she is finally bedding the man of her dreams. Little does she know when she walks out the door, she’s about to be OWNED.

***Content Warning***

Owned is a dark erotic romance. Please pay close attention to the use of the words dark, erotic, and romance. It has intense sexual situations, a Master/slave relationship, mild abuse, and some violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Review –

I read the Kindle version of this book in 2015 and I found it on Audible in their Romance Package so I decided to read (listen) to it a second time.

 What I really liked about this book compared to a lot of BDSM focused books is that Ellie’s had a thing for Kayne for awhile. You usually see it where the heroine is a little more reluctant to get into a relationship with the enigmatic businessman, but I felt Ellie was a little more of the kind of person  who knows what she likes, even if she’s a little too afraid to go get it at first. There’s reasons, and they make sense, but I just liked that she liked him!

And Kayne… he’s got more than enough secrets for the both of them. He’s holding back in a way, too. While Ellie is keeping a safe distance from Kayne for business reasons, he’s keeping his secrets for his own personal reasons. The contrast was a really interesting mix that I enjoyed. There’s a lot of reasons for them to not be together, but I still wanted them to come together.

And, oh boy, when they threw caution to the wind and went for it, it was smoldering! The sex scenes are intense. I loved the Master/slave aspect, too. It’s not something you really see in a lot of books, at least not to this level. I liked that this kind of shed light on a different side to BDSM than the usual, and while some parts left me feeling a little worried, I enjoyed reading it a lot.

As long as you know what you’re getting into, this is a great book. It’s got those mysteries and forbidden attractions that I can’t seem to get enough of, the steaming hot sex scenes that I want in almost all of my books, and watching the story and relationship unfold between Ellie and Kayne was really exciting. They’re a cute couple, despite being more than a little kinky, ha,I loved them!

Listening to the book was sooo much hotter than reading it. The narrators, Muffy Newtown and San Crowley, do a fantastic job and make it blistering hot!!!!

Please heed the above warning because there could be many triggers in this book/series.