Sweetheart (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #2) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 2, 2008

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Portland detective Archie Sheridan, the former head of the Beauty Killer Task Force, hunted Gretchen Lowell for years before she kidnapped him, tortured him, and then let him go. Now that she is behind bars, Archie is finally piecing his life back together. He’s returned home to his ex-wife and their two children. But no matter how hard Archie tries, he just can’t stop thinking about Gretchen!

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the first corpse he discovered there a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. Then, the unthinkable happens: Gretchen escapes from prison, and once the news breaks, all of Portland goes on high alert; but secretly, Archie is relieved. He knows he’s the only one who can capture Gretchen and now he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all. Even if it means becoming her last victim!

Review –

In Sweetheart Archie’s best friend and detective, Henry, as well as his wife step in and stage a whole intervention scene. They are severing all ties between Archie and Gretchen. Henry explains that they are moving her to a place far out of his reach and banning all phone calls and visits with her. It doesn’t matter that every time Archie visits her she gives up another name of another victim. It’s just not worth it anymore.

This novel opens up with the shuffling of transporting Gretchen from one prison to another, in which she escapes. Archie knows she will kill anyone, especially those who are important to Archie. She will kill anyone to get his attention.  She wants him and she will not stop until she has him all to herself. With so many people Archie cares for there are a lot of people she can come after to gain his attention. But Gretchen isn’t playing games anymore. After a few leads that send the detective all over the city yet seem to get them nowhere to finding her, Gretchen comes directly for Archie and he goes to her willingly.

With Archie missing, our favorite reporter Susan Ward is back in action. Of course, she never left the action of trying to find the real scoop on the U.S. senator who seduced his children’s babysitter a decade ago. Only he’s dead and the babysitter is too. Susan worries her story is long gone? Until she finds a connection between the dead bodies that seem to be popping up everywhere and the sex scandal? Working with Henry trying to find Archie, Susan struggles with who to trust with the clues that she keeps uncovering about the other case she is working on.

The story goes back and forth between Archie’s relationship with his captor and Susan’s struggle to piece together all the parts of more than one head-scratching case.  I found the book a bit sluggish at times and felt that Cain was not doing as great a job at holding my attention with this installment of her Gretchen Lowell series.  The tension in this book was not up to par compared to her first book and the gory details of the previous book was traded for some lewd scenes between Archie and Gretchen ( we find out that Archie and Gretchen were having an affair before she kidnapped and tortured him and no one know but just the two of them.). Cain does however utilize the multiple plots going on in the book quite well and is easily switched from one to the other. I give kudos to Cain for incorporating the psychological complexities to the relationship between Archie and Gretchen as well as keeping the main characters busy with moving the storyline in the right direction. Though I feel the book could have been a wee bit better it was still a page turner (Archie tries to commit suicide while handcuffing Gretchen to the stairs in a cabin in the middle of a wild fire) for the most part.  It’s believable or as believable as one who’s never experienced a psycho serial killer can be and I am totally looking forward to the third installment, Evil at Heart.  I have it on hold on OverDrive but there are two people ahead of me.

Excellent read!

 

 

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Heartsick (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #1) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 4, 2007

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him she eventually saved his physical life by calling 911 and turning herself in, but Archie’s existence has been fundamentally ruined. Although Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth—he can’t stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.
Review –
This story is very sick and twisted, which makes or an EXCELLENT read.
Archie Sheridan is on so many pills for the pain and suffering of being kidnapped and tortured for ten days (she set a trap for him and Gretchen drove nails into Archie’s ribs, removed his spleen while he was awake, feed him handfuls of pills, carved on his torso and made him drink drain cleaner, just to name of few of her tricks and against rather steep odds Archie fell madly in love with her) by the beautiful serial killer, Gretchen Lowell but he has been called back from medical leave to lead a new task force and try to catch a new serial killer, dubbed the After School Strangler. Add in Susan Ward, whose father died when she was 14.  She’s a  pink haired reporter doing a piece on Archie, since he is a celebrity of sorts and as a freshman at Cleveland High, where one of the recent victims attended school, she may or may not have had an inappropriate sexual relationship with her drama teacher. Archie realizes almost too late that Gretchen has actually been setting her own trap, and Susan is the intended victim.
I won’t say who the After School Strangler turns out to be but as the story progresses it’s not hard to predict the outcome and that’s okay because there’s MUCH more to the book than the solving of the current crime. The characters run the show in Heartsick, which refers to the heart carved on Archie’s chest by Gretchen, and it’s much more satisfying to learn what happens to them AFTER the crime has been solved. 
Archie decides to quit seeing Gretchen on Sundays and try to reunite with his family and Susan tries to be a better reporter.
Fans of the serial killer genre, crime/mystery fiction readers and anyone who appreciates a first-rate suspense thriller are gonna eat this book up and since Heartsick is just the first in a whole series of Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan novels, the fun’s just getting started.  
I have already started the second in the series called Sweetheart and can’t wait to see what Gretchen has up her sleeve for Archie this time around.
 Five stars!!!!!

 

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Book Description:

Published: July 12, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

Review-

“The traumatic memories of a teenager’s rape are medically erased, but lingering thoughts of the attack remain, infecting everyone in her close-knit community.

15-year-old Jenny Kramer thought the party she’d been invited to would be the moment when she’d finally blossom, maybe even get a moment alone with the dashing Doug Hastings. Instead she found herself drunk, in the woods, the victim of a vicious hourlong rape, of which Walker spares the reader no detail in this unnecessarily explicit debut. After she’s rushed to the hospital, Jenny’s parents—blubbering car salesman Tom and tightly put together homemaker Charlotte —decide to give her an experimental drug cocktail to erase her memories of the attack. If the process were successful, there’d be no book, so enter the skin-crawlingly smug narrator, soon introduced as psychiatrist Dr. Alan Forrester, who begins treating Jenny, along with her whole family, after her nearly successful suicide attempt. It’s difficult to empathize with a character—our narrator no less—who looks at a 15-year-old assault victim and wonders to himself “why [he] could not see the rape in her eyes.” As the well-to-do enclave of Fairview, Connecticut, tries to regroup in the wake of zero viable suspects, Tom Kramer makes it his mission to find Jenny’s rapist, jumping on every slim lead, like the sighting of a blue Honda Civic near the party and  a boy in a blue sweatshirt.  The introduction of one of Alan’s other patients, a soldier who endured the same treatment as Jenny, merely clutters an already busy story whose resolution is anything but satisfying.

A repugnant narrator, even an unreliable one, makes it difficult to focus on the true victim, one who is crushed under the weight of this ridiculous plot.” from Kirkus Reviews

I couldn’t have said it better. As the book went on I began to wonder if indeed the rape of Jenny and her well-being was the focus of the story or if it was the Doctor Forrester and his well-being. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know.

Don’t waste your time.

 

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

Book Description:

Published: March 10, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she’s free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance. It’s a story about the wrongs in our past not letting go and how hard we must fight for second chances.

Review –

It took me forever to get into this book and I found it very convoluted and was indeed surprised by the ending but I still only gave it a three out of five stars.

Zoe’s step-brother, Lucas, had written a script for a movie/play where he revealed that his father abused his mother before she died.  Right before the concert, Lucas had emailed the script to Maria and Zoe as a warning that his father was dangerous.   Maria had kept Zoe’s criminal past from Chris and he found out about it the night she died.  It was Lucas who accidentally pushed Maria down the stairs, but he recorded everything on his cell phone.  Zoe convinced him to turn the video in and say that Chris was the murderer.  It worked.  The cops arrested Chris.

Sorry about the spoilers but if I hadn’t already read it, I would NOT read it. I really hope the next book I read by this author is better. To me, this one was a “bit of a time-waster”.

 

 

 

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

Review –

I will not tell you what happens in this book because there are so many twists and turns and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end and then you are left with your mouth agape.

No One Knows will have inevitable comparisons to Gone Girl, but this is a more realistic storyline. It will have readers guessing who can be believed and what are their ulterior motives.  Ellison messes with the character’s head as well as the readers with her many directional path changes.

I will say that I thought that Opryland in Nashville as  the scene of Josh’s disappearance was genius. It is huge and so very easy to get lost in. The author has said that it is a metaphor for this story because anyone who visits there can get turned around and see different things at different times.

I loved this book all the way through and got whiplash from all the twists and turns but loved every minute of it!

YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

Five stars.

 

 

Devil’s Advocate (Book Two) by Carla Coxwell

Book Description:

Published: June 4, 2015

Format: E-Book

Kristie has finally graduated from college. With a new boyfriend in tow, Gray’s rival, Armand, and moving back into her mother’s house, it feels as if life might finally fall back into place. But Gray, the love of her life and her cousin by marriage, happens to return after hiding out of town. He’s been freed of being suspected of a murder he didn’t commit and is now looking to reclaim glory in his gang, the Devil’s Advocates, once again.

But both Kristie and Gray are in for surprises. People aren’t always what they seem. Kristie struggles to work through her relationship problems with Armand while Gray struggles to fall back into a position of power in the life he left behind. As the two of them are drawn closer together, both must choose the life they want – with each other, or alone. No matter what they end up picking, the risks in their lives can end up costing the two of them everything.

***Due to sexually graphic content and language that some may find offensive, this book is intended for mature readers only***

Review –

I can’t believe that Kristie would fall for Armand. He’s a slimy fake and I feel he’s just using her to get back at Gray.

Speaking of Gray, things don’t go so well for him in Book Two. While he was on the run from being falsely accused of a hit and run, Armand is trying to take over the Devil’s Advocates MC club and working for the Infernos. 

The Infernos  beat Gray almost to death and later Armand tries again. Both times it’s close but he able to take the reign of the club again and convince Kristie that he does love her.

He even proposes marriage, she accepts and the wedding goes off without a hitch, but while getting into the cab to head to the airport to start their honeymoon Kristie is shot twice by a masked assailant and is near death when the book ends.

Gray has promised Kristie he is done with the MC gang life but since Armand is still lurking out there I have a feeling that promise will go by the wayside.

Not sure if I’ll read books three and four, but probably will down the road.

 

Devil’s Advocate (Book One) by Carla Conwell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2015

Format: Free Digital Book

Gray is rash, impulsive and breaks the law. Kristie finds herself falling for him but will her attraction to Gray prove fatal?

When Kristie comes home from college, the last thing she expects is her world to be turned upside down by the appearance of a handsome, gruff stranger, Gray. He is the head of a biker gang in town called the Devil’s Advocates.

Kristie’s mom asks if she can befriend Gray in hopes of getting him on the straight and narrow. The plan backfires, however, as Kristie finds herself falling for Gray. Is it possible he feels the same way? The connection between them threatens to tear down everything Kristie has ever held dear.

The more she falls for Gray, the more messy things get. As Gray gets yanked further and further into the world of his gang, Kristie finds herself having to make a choice: stay on her own path or risk everything to be with Gray. Will she be able to make it out unscathed?

***Due to sexually graphic content and language that some may find offensive, this book is intended for mature readers only***

Review –

You know I’m a sucker for a motorcycle club/bad biker boy/contemporary romance and when I ran across the blurb for this one AND it was free, I couldn’t resist.

It’s the typical good girl/bad boy contemporary romance BUT with a twist. Kristie and Gray are cousins by marriage and they are hugely attracted to one another. The story deals with Gray’s uncle  trying to get him to change his ways and his dealings with a motorcycle gang and Kristie coming home for a college break , meeting her new step-father and his nephew, Gray. There is also a policeman, John, who becomes attracted to Kristie and uses her to get the goods on Gray so he can be arrested for a hit and run/murder that he did not commit and a motorcycle club member, Armand, whose intentions are anything but honorable, when it comes to Gray.

There is of course a few sex scenes but they are on the mild side(compared to some) and by the end of the book Gray has told Kristie he was just using her, but in reality he doesn’t want to involve her anymore deeply into his chaos  and so he skips town and Kristie starts dating Armand. (I also gagged when I read that because he is so slimy )If anyone is using Kristie, it’s Armand.

All in all, a great read. Looking forward to Book Two.

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

Review –

Five Stars !!!!!

This story pulled me in from the beginning and held me captive to the end.

I see IDENTITY as the theme running through the storyline.  Hattie wasn’t sure who see was so she became what people wanted, the seemingly loving girlfriend, the knowledgeable student, the obedient daughter, the best friend, to name a few, and she hides behinds all of these. Others in the story hid behind their identities to a point: the English teacher behind literature and the sheriff behind his badge but not to the point that Hattie does.

Hattie has an epiphany and realizes that she can not hide behind her “fake” selves and has to come to terms with her true self but it is too late.

She truly loves Peter and he loves her too but as a reader I knew their relationship was doomed  from the beginning so I was not surprised by the outcome, but there is a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming. 

This is a captivating story and I loved it and I highly recommend it!

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct…

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

“A search for a missing girl resurrects traumatic memories for a woman already struggling with life.

Sunday Night—not her real name—lives in seclusion on an island off the South Carolina coast while contemplating the ruins of her life. Her early childhood was a nightmare. Taken in by policeman Perry “Beau” Beaumonde, rebellious Sunday earned a choice of jail or the armed forces. Her stint in the Marines led to a job with the Charleston PD, where the accidental shooting of an unarmed man has left her wounded and pensioned off. That’s when Beau suggests she take an investigative job for wealthy, well-connected Opaline Drucker, whose 15-year-old granddaughter, Stella, may have been kidnapped by a cult after she missed being killed in a Hebrew school bombing that claimed the lives of her mother and brother (though the family isn’t Jewish). Accepting the job, Sunday heads to Chicago, where Drucker’s connections get her first-class treatment and information from the cops handling the case. Paranoid Sunday sets up motion detectors in her room at the Ritz and moves from hotel to hotel while awaiting the results of her internet trolling. She hears from the bombers and manages to avoid one trap but gets ambushed at the Ritz, where she kills an attacker identified as one of the bombing suspects from an old security tape. Seeking help in staking out a female member of the gang, Sunday calls on her twin brother, Gus, and they chase the suspects from Chicago to California and back East. Reichs periodically interrupts this tale with the first-person narrative of a girl desperately trying to escape a cult. Is it Stella or Sunday? Are the bombers really trying to kill Jewish schoolchildren, or is their motive still deeper?

The authors’ newest heroine, the polar opposite of cerebral Temperance Brennan (Speaking in Bones, 2015, etc.), is fueled by a well-nigh uncontrollable rage in her thrilling, violent search for a missing girl so much like herself.”

The above was taken from Kirkus Review.

Although I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure if the character of Sunday Night will grow on me; but I really liked her twin brother Gus (August Night) and he, I could become invested in. I guess I’ll just wait and see what the author decides to do.

 

The Operator (There Peri Reed Chronicles #2) by Kim Harrison

Book Description:

Published: November 22, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On-the-run ex-agent Peri Reed returns bigger and bolder than ever in this second highly-anticipated installment in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s new suspense trilogy, The Peri Reed Chronicles.

Peri Reed’s job eats her mind, but for a special task agent in hiding, forgetting the past can be a blessing.

Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and the agency who turned her into the very thing she fought against, Peri abandoned the wealth and privilege of Opti for anonymity riddled with memory gaps and self-doubt. But when a highly addictive drug promises to end her dependency on those who’d use her as a tool for their own success, she must choose to remain broken and vulnerable, or return to the above-the-law power and prestige she once left: strong but without will—for whoever holds her next fix, will hold her loyalty.

Yet even now as then, a love based on lies of omission might still save her life.

Review –

Poor Peri finds herself in hiding after leaving Opti fearing her handlers will erase her memories. Both Opti and the CIA want her on their team, but both have their own agendas making Peri very much a pawn. Peri may be the ultimate weapon, but she isn’t going down without a fight.

The beginning started a little slow ,but it was neat seeing what our girl Peri has been doing without Opti. The story began to take off at the thirty percent mark when Bill and his newest Drafter, Michael, try to bring Peri back into Opti. Bill tries to lure her in with the promise of not being dependent on an Anchor. After a near escape, she reaches out to Silas, and the two soon find themselves unwillingly assisting the CIA. Peri wants out but both sides are determined to have her. Neither would be beneficial and both spell an end to her freedom. The tale that unfolds has twists, turns and hold your breath moments. Peri must use her wits against both opponents and time is running out.

The storylines of the Operator are more intense than those of The Drafter. We have intrigue, treachery and action-packed scenes that will leave you breathless.  Peri interacts with friends and co-workers from the past, and we meet new acquaintances as she tries to determine who is her ally and who has their own agenda. Allen, Bill, Helen and Michael are pretty obvious but then there is Jack. Jack the hallucination and Jack the man, her former Anchor, betrayer, and lover. Secondary characters are developed enough that readers will become emotionally involved. I found myself fearing, caring or utterly loathing them.  Harrison provides some of their points of view which help validate Peri’s concerns.

Peri is tested when Opti dangles a big carrot in front of her offering something she desires. We get a taste of Peri’s strengths and her brilliant mind. The obstacles she faces only prove how truly badass she is. The last three-fourths of the book had me holding my breath as we faced trials, deceit, and danger.

The Operator wrapped up nicely but has me eager to return for more.