The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Book Description:

Published: July 5, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She sets a trap. But is he really a killer?

The famous bestselling author Linda Conrads  is a mystery to her fans and the media. For eleven years she did not leave her villa on Lake Štarnberškom. Despite the problems, Linda was very successful, but no one knows her remoteness has been brought about by a traumatizing memory. Years before  Linda found her younger sister, Anna,  in a pool of blood – and saw her killer  flee.  The killer’s face haunts her dreams. One day she experiences an incredible shock when seeing the killer’s face on television. He is a prominent journalist . For Linda, it’s reason enough to forge a dangerous and devious  plan – to lure the killer into a trap.

But what really happened the night of the crime?

Review –

This was my first read/listen by this author and I enjoyed it very much.

Everyone thought Anna was perfect and ignored plain Linda and one day Linda finds her sister dead in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed seven times. She saw the killer. Looked him right in the face before he fled through the terrace doors. The police took her statement but were skeptical . There was no forced entry and nothing was disturbed.

Now plagued by panic attacks, Linda copes with debilitating anxiety by secluding herself in her house, her last safe haven. But the sanctity of this refuge is shattered when her sister’s murderer appears again–this time on her television screen. Empowered with sudden knowledge but hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use her only means of communication with the outside world–the plot of her next novel–to lay an irresistible trap for the man.

But as the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda’s memories of that traumatic night–and her very sanity–are called into question. Is this man really a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?

I won’t give the ending away but there are many twists and turns and even a hidden love story .

The author is German and the book was a  translation and while I’ve seen reviewers that did not like it at all, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

 

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Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer’s signature -—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim’s abdomen- —matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who’s reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case’s progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge. Adept at creating characters with depth and nuance, Castillo smoothly integrates their backstories into a well-paced plot that illuminates the divide between the Amish and English worlds.

Review –

Since I enjoyed number eight, Among the Wicked, in this series – I decided to go back and start from the beginning and I’m so glad I did.

In this first book in the series we learn more background on Kate’s reason for leaving the Amish life and her estrangement from her siblings. We also meet her love interest-to-be, John Tomasetti for the first time and learn more of his back story. Both were tormented with a serious past yet they were drawn together during the hunt for the serial killer. 

We also learn the lengths to which people will go to cover up ugly things in their lives and the affect in has on all around them.

I enjoyed this book more than number eight so I will continue with the series.

A great read.

 

Deliver (Deliver #1) by Pam Godwin

Book Description:

Published: February 26, 2014

Format: E-Book

 

His name was Joshua Carter. Now it’s whatever she wants it to be.
She is a Deliverer.
She lures young men and delivers them to be sold. She delivers the strikes that enforce their obedience. She delivers the sexual training that determines their purchase price.
As long as she delivers, the arrangement that protects her family will hold.
Delivering is all she knows.
The one thing she can’t deliver is a captive from slavery.
Until him.
And her stubborn slave thinks he can deliver her…from herself.

Content warning: Graphic sex, violence, and psychological abuse. Age 18+ only.

Review –

If you’re a fan of dark romance, Deliver is definitely a book you should add to your list!!

It’s dangerous, suspenseful, very dark,  erotic, and at it’s heart, it’s a love story. I’m not going to lie though, it definitely made me uncomfortable at times but that’s kind of what you should expect from a darker romance so again, in every way, this book delivered.

Please pay attention to the content warning on the blurb though. This book is not for the faint of heart but underneath everything, it was the story of what happens when good people are put into terrible situations. It shows their true colors in the face of dangerous and sometimes deadly situations. In this case, it was about one man’s care for a woman who had stolen him from his life, violated him, subjugated him to cruelty and despite it all, he was still determined to save her from a life not that different from his new one.

When reading you thinka story about  human trafficking for sex BUT it was so much  more. There is a giant twist and it changes everything.  I didn’t think Josh and Liv had a chance in Hell but believe it or not there is a HEA. That shows what a good author Pam Godwin is. She was able to pull hope from chaos.

Very good read but very very dark. Reader BEWARE.

 

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 12,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate’s long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she’ll have limited communication – and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can’t turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she’s briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone… trapped in a fight for her life.

Review –

This is another new author for me and although this book was number eight in the series; it works well as a stand-alone.

Since I haven’t read or listened to any of the earlier books I’m not sure what tragic event happened in Kate’s life while she was a young Amish girl, but I can guess. Her past has caused her to become the strong woman she is and few books feature strong women a main characters.

The plot was weak in places and dragged a bit here and there but on the whole I enjoyed it and plan to find others in the series.

Chained (Caged #2) by D. H. Sidebottom

Book Description:

Published: July 15, 2016

Format: Purchased E-Book

I had once thought that when I found the light I had been searching for in that long, dark tunnel that it would finally give me the gift I had been holding on for.
I had scoured the joyless night sky for peace, a peace that only the brightness of the stars could grant.
And I had endeavoured to catch that single magic snowflake in the middle of a howling snowstorm.
I had been looking. Forever.

But little did I know that it WAS the sinister darkness in the tunnel that was the gift. It WAS the black reservoir of the deepest, darkest night that would be the very thing to give my chaotic soul peace. And it WAS the heaving rush of the bleakest blizzard that was filled with magic.

Anderson Cain WAS the darkness.
He WAS the black peace in my soul.
And within the raging pool of his wild green eyes WAS the magic.
The magic that saw me. The real me.
He made sure I saw me too. All of me. He’d told me he would make me accept who I really was.

I was Kloe Grant. And now – now I am the epitome of what he wanted me to be.

But when I finally let go, and I allowed that darkness to find me, neither of us was prepared for who I really was.

Death itself.

 

Review –

Chained picks up right where ‘Caged’ left off. Immediately, the reader is plunged back into the screwed up pasts of Anderson and Kloe. Forcing Kloe to confront the memories that haunt her, Anderson is still out for revenge and plans to use Kloe as the means to exact that revenge on his father.

The characters are all the right and wrong things in the world. These two have seen more than their fair share of evil. The ways that they decide to deal with those evils are cruel and unusual, but in the end it was so beautiful. I cried throughout the story for the lives they led, the love they never knew, and the love they found. There are so many dark elements in this story, but they are portrayed so beautifully.

Just like Caged, this book will blow your mind and play with your emotions. There were so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming…and a few that I did. I don’t want to spoil anything. This is one that you need to experience firsthand. Prepare to be shocked and left with an uneasy, disturbed feeling. If you’re a fan of dark, erotic stories, this series is a must read!

This book contains extreme violence, strong adult language and scenes of dark sex, including M/F/M.

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Caged (Caged #1) by D.H. Sidebottom

Book Description:

Published: May 18, 2016

Format: Free Digital Book

Judd Asher was taken from his front garden when he was just four years old. After an extensive search he was never found.
Twenty-one years after a random call out, Judd is found chained and beaten in the basement of an old rundown farmhouse where he has lived the life of an animal for the last twenty-one years.

Kloe Grant is assigned as Judd’s personal therapist. It’s her job to rehabilitate him, to guide him back to normal life. But as Judd’s only emotion is rage, Kloe finds it both heart-breaking and challenging mending a soul that’s not only broken but caged inside him by the demons of his past.

However, when Kloe’s relationship with her patient raises some eyebrows, Kloe can’t fight against the powers that want to see her fail, and with an arm behind her back, she walks away, leaving behind a man who has come to live life again for her.

Four years later Judd, now known as Anderson Cain, the darkest and most formidable cage fighter in a world where violence and crime are the only way to keep breathing, Judd finds there’s not a lot in life that can abate the rage that still twists and prowls beneath his skin.
Not until a chance encounter brings him to her door. To the woman with the bluest eyes and the most stunning smile, the woman who took his hand in the darkness and led him through the door into the sun.
But Kloe Grant left him when he needed her the most. She took the only shred of hope and trust he had left and annihilated it. She starved his belief, and she fed his fury.
She owes him. And he’s going to make sure that this time, she pays. In blood. In lust. In pain. And with her soul.

Review –

This book was not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be another story about the kidnapping of a young boy and his release from captivity twenty-one years later. I thought it would be about his rehabilitation and merging back into society. But it was NOT.

Anderson WAS more than damaged. He was a savage, a sadist, a masochist, insane, and hell-bent on revenge.

We learn that Kloe, the personal therapist, meant to help him, had her demons as well and together they fall to the depths of depravity.

This is absolutely everything you want in a dark erotic novel. Suspense, actual brutality and emotion, intensity and strong characters. Sex scenes so dark and yet so erotic it makes me uneasy at your own reactions. More than anything, this wasn’t just a simple novel focused solely on sex, but a focus on mental health and finding life, consolation and comfort in questionable actions, something to fill the empty void of the two lead characters. The unliveable nature of Anderson in particular was wonderfully troubling, attractive, arrogant, broken and cruel.

There were so many jaw-dropping  moments I didn’t know what to do with myself.  

This book will not be for everyone, so be forewarned that it is DARK, very very DARK, with triggers.

I didn’t know going in that this had a sequel but it did and I’m reading it now. HAD to!

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Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Book Description:

Published: May 17, 2016

Format: Audio

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession.

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

Review –

I am a big fan of psychological thrillers and found myself really enjoying this book. Some parts are completely over the top and, at times, even downright silly, but you expect that stuff going into it. Obviously, these stories aren’t happening in real life–and if they are, well, Heaven help us !

Kubica’s style is fresh and unique, staying true to her strength–which is dialing up the suspense until it reaches the boiling point. While I found some of the characters a bit too quirky and Alex was a bit too Norman Bates-like. I thought they were all tied up nicely at the end.

I did want to pull my hair out where character of Ben, whom Quinn had a huge crush on, was concerned. He was oblivious to her calling him at all times of the night and leaving notes on his desk at work but the author did give us a glimmer of hope for them at the end too.

If you’re looking for a story to suck you in and get your heart pumping, Don’t You Cry would be a worthy pick to meet all of your suspense-loving, thrill-seeking needs!

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Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2015

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Review –

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You need to know that Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows is related to her Grisha trilogy, but you can read this first book of the related series without reading the trilogy first.(I did NOT read the Grisha trilogy) The content is consistently mature and a better fit for more mature teen readers and adults.  Characters are complex, flawed, and sometimes responsible for despicable acts, such as plucking out a man’s eye in one gruesome scene. More bloodshed includes arena fighting in prison where a man is mauled to death and wolves are killed, a gang shooting where a boy is left for dead, a knife wound that nearly kills a main character, and more. Backstories of the main characters can be jarring, such as a recalled childhood scene of a character being buried in corpses on a barge, imprisonment and near-starvation, and characters being beaten and forced to work in brothels. No details are given about life in the brothels, but there’s some kissing and nakedness in other scenes.Readers will learn the backstories of these characters as the novel progresses, each bringing up themes of survival and overcoming loss. Though greed and revenge seem to motivate characters on the surface, there’s also an underlying desire for connection.

I’ve read reviews that raved about this book but for me it was a three and a half to four star book. It was entertaining and the narrators, and there were several, did a great job. I will read the next in the series, Crooked Kingdom, but only because I hate not finishing a series, not because I can’t wait.

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Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline

Book Description:

Published: March 13, 2007

The unlikely heroine of this Lisa Scottoline thriller (which follows 2006’s Dirty Blonde), mousy University of Pennsylvania assistant law professor Natalie “Nat” Greco, finds herself in way over her head when an unintended visit to a minimum-security prison in nearby Chester County puts her in the middle of a deadly uprising — and places her at the center of an elaborate plot that involves an incarcerated crime boss and more than a few improbable conspirators.

Greco’s classes at Penn Law — the History of Justice, for example — aren’t nearly as well attended as those taught by charismatic and handsome prof Angus Holt. Greco herself is far from immune to Holt’s charm, so when he asks her to accompany him to Chester County Correctional Institution to lecture to inmates involved in an externship program, she quickly agrees. But the professors’ visit soon turns deadly; a riot erupts, and amid the chaos Greco finds herself alone with a dying correctional officer who has been stabbed through the heart with a metal shank. His last words are a cryptic  message to his wife: “It’s under the floor.” Soon thereafter, Greco is inexplicably set up for the murder of a state trooper and is forced to become a fugitive from justice while she tries to unravel the mystery of the dying man’s words.

While not as sexually supercharged or frenetically paced as Dirty Blonde, Daddy’s Girl derives its power from the subtle and compelling coming-of-age of protagonist Greco, a sheltered and socially naive woman who, when faced with the ultimate adversity, discovers herself.

Review –

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I have mixed feelings about this book, though overall positive I did find it a bit daunting to keep up with all of the action., if you can believe that. I mean, it had a prison riot and break out, road blocks , a vice dean on her case, plus family and boyfriend trouble. It wore me out. It’s really just an adult Nancy Drew mystery.

The end had a surprise twist and even though it was a bit cliché, it was still perfect.

Not the best but not the worst.

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Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2016

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.

Review –

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This was the most depressing book that I think I have ever read or listened to but it is also very haunting.

In the “tell me again times”, Anna’s mom tells her the story of how she was alone and had always wanted a daughter. But Anna slowly learns the truth, having a daughter is not enough to fill the void inside her mother. So she watches as her mother marries, divorces, marries, divorces, and then spends a great deal of time dating man after man and leaving Anna in the house alone.
Anna often spends night after night alone in the lying house. It looks beautiful, but it is empty. She turns on the TV to fill it with noise. She wanders from room to room. And when nothing she can do fills that emptiness, she begins to try to fill it with boys in much the same way she sees her mother trying to fill her own emptiness with men.

Anna’s story is a series of relationships, very few of them real or fulfilling:
Her mother – absent, distant, unaware
The first boy – a boy who assaults her on the school bus, although she doesn’t realize at the time what it is.
Joey – For a while, he fills the void. But then just as her mother told her all men do, he leaves.
The rapist – he haunts her.
Toy – the best friend, lost herself, but Anna doesn’t recognize this until much later.
Josh – For a while, he too fills the void.
And then Sam – here she sees for the first time what a real family must look like, and it creates in her a longing so real, so palpable that the world around her shifts.

By the time Sam comes along Anna has gotten pregnant and had an abortion but he is a virgin and wants to WAIT for their first time together.  They do wait-for awhile but the temptation is too great and they have sex, whenever and where ever they can. One afternoon Anna goes over to Sam’s house because he is sick and one thing leads to another and they have sex and his mother walks in on them and tells her to leave.  

It’s during this time of depression and loneliness that Anna discovers that Toy is as broken as she is and has been lying about all her romantic boyfriends (none of whom exist). Anna  has been trying  fill the emptiness inside of her with boy after boy after boy until she sees something else and decides she is going to find a way to make it happen for herself, and it’s  important because Anna realizes this for herself and acts upon it for herself.

The book ends with Anna feeling hopeful and that’s something she has never felt before.

Very thought-provoking.

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