One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A handsome stranger moves to the small Pennsylvania town of Central Valley, and his name is Chris Brennan. He’s applying for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at the local high school, and he looks perfect, on paper. But his name is an alias, his resume is false, and everything about him is a lie. And he has a secret plan – for which he needs a pawn on the baseball team.

Susan Sematov loves her younger son Raz, the quirky and free-spirited pitcher of the team. But Raz’s adored father died only a few months ago, and the family is grief-stricken. Secretly, Raz is looking to fill the Daddy-shaped hole in his heart.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who’s dedicated to her only son Justin, the quiet rookie on the team. But Justin’s shy and reserved nature renders him vulnerable to attention, including that of a new father-figure.

Mindy Kostis is the wife of a busy surgeon and the queen bee of the baseball boosters, where her super-popular son Evan is the star catcher. But she doesn’t realize that Evan’s sense of entitlement is becoming a full-blown case of affluenza, and after he gets his new BMW, it’s impossible to know where he’s going – or whom he’s spending time with.

The lives of these families revolve around the baseball team – and Chris Brennan. What does he really want? How far will he go to get it? Who among them will survive the lethal jeopardy threatening them, from the shadows?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will keep readers riveted to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

Review –

Five stars !

“If you were looking for a mid year replacement for a departing government teacher, you could hardly do better than Chris Brennan. He’s clearly prepared to cover the courses in government and criminal justice; he’s bright, attractive, and personable; he bonds instantly and effectively with students; and he can even serve as assistant coach of the school’s faltering baseball team. Chris is clearly too good to be true, an observation it never occurs to his new colleagues to take seriously. Only Abe Yomes, the gay African-American language-arts teacher, poses any threat, not because he sees through Chris but because he actually grew up in Wyoming, where Chris is pretending to be from. Soon enough, however, Mr. Y is dead, an apparent suicide, and Chris is ready to go ahead with his plan, which requires him to befriend a lonely, vulnerable boy—preferably somebody both in his class and on the baseball team—separate him from his cohort, and turn him into a patsy for a scheme that involves a rented truck and a mountain of ammonium chloride fertilizer. To say more would undermine several whopping surprises Scottoline has in store, but readers can be assured that the author nails the high school milieu, from athletic rivalries to sexting, and that even if they spot every twist coming from a mile away, they’re still in for one thrilling ride on the roller coaster.” Kirkus Reviews

At first you’re not sure where the book is heading but after a few chapters it is clearly unveiled and from there it is action packed, fast paced and gives you a hero to cheer.

Excellent read.

 

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The Kept by James Scott

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.

In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.

A scorching portrait of a merciless world — of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence — The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.

Review –

I don’t know where to start with this one except to say that is the MOST DEPRESSING book I have ever read or listened to (I listened – which made it worse because the narrator made the characters come alive).

Elspeth is a midwife and stays away from home for months at a time and is returning to her homestead, which is a six-hour walk from the nearest town. Once there she finds her husband and four children all dead from gun shots. She is accidentally shot with a rifle by her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who survived the massacre by hiding and being quiet.

Caleb does the best he can to doctor her wounds but she almost dies. When she is able to stand it he tells her of the three mens with red scarves around their necks who did the killings. She says they must go and hunt them down and kill them. 

Thus starts the saga.

Once arriving in the town they suspect the murders reside Elspeth dresses like a man and gets a job hauling ice and Caleb, who quickly tires of staying all day cooped up in a hotel room, gets a job as a janitor at the brothel.

The things these two endure is amazing and when facts come out about Caleb’s “brothers and sisters” he is not really shocked because by that time he had a suspicion.

Do they find the killers? You’ll have to read the book, but let me warn you it is depressing, especially the ending.

After listening to this, I had to find a “fluff” piece to read/listen because my mind was not ready for another serious tome.

 

Her Russian Knight (Brie’s Submission #13) by Red Phoenix

Book Description:

Published: March 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Warning: There will be tears…but Rytsar demands no less.

Rytsar Durov is a sadist–and he’s upset. Bones may be broken. The Russian Dom is a force unto himself, and he intends to take care of the threat once and for all.

No one touches radost moya. NO ONE!

Nothing fazes this sexy Russian Dom, but how will he cope when he finds out the tragedy that’s befallen his comrade–the only man he calls Brother?

Review –
 
Another amazing installment of the Brie’s Submission series centering around the Dominant of Rystar Durov, a sadist, and “blood brother” to Sir Thane Davis.
 
In this  book we learn more background of Rystar and his deep love for his first love, Tatiana, and the reason behind the murder of his beloved mother. He’s an all or nothing kind of guy and never does things half way, and shows this in his love and care for Brie while Sir is still in a coma. Her welfare comes first, no matter that a hit man is after him for killing the “maggot” back in the club in Russia. He truly loves Brie and has confessed this to Thane and he is surprised that the knowledge did not change things between them. But Thane completely understands, after all, it’s Brie.
 
Rystar deals with the “crazy half-sister from Hell”, Lily, and she confesses that her intent had been to kill Brie’s child and then sell Brie into slavery. When he has to leave town he entrust her charge to Todd Wallace and he will notify the police and let the law take over. But he has waited too long and is confronted by his enemies in Sir’s room at the hospital, no less, and is beaten and dragged away. BUT, before the hit squad enter the room Rystar slips a note into Brie’s hand and tells them her and Thane to shut their eyes, because that way they won’t be able to identify to bad guys.
As he is dragged away and thrown in a van, there is a slight smile on his face the he recalls what the note says – “Tell Sunshine(his name for Brie’s baby girl(he know it’s going to be a girl) to save a dance for me”.
OMG – tears were falling down my face at this point.  I can’t wait to get into the next book.
Love, love this series.

The Pawn (Endgame #1) by Skye Warren

Book Description:

Published: December 6, 2016

Format:Free Digital Book

“Sinfully sexy and darkly beautiful, The Pawn will play games with your heart and leave you craving more!” – Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

The price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. It’s the first book in the brand new ENDGAME series.

Review –

Avery’s world is falling apart. Her father is very bad off after getting severely beaten over bad business dealings with a man named Gabriel. Gabriel  sells and buys things – things like guns and drugs. Avery goes to the “King of the Underworld” Damon Scott for hopes of a loan, but when she discovers Damon reports to Gabriel, she knows she is big trouble.

When Gabriel learns eighteen year old Avery is a virgin, he tells her that her virginity is the most valuable thing she owns and if it is sold, she would make enough money to help her father and keep his house. But she would be owned for a month. He will sell her body to the highest bidder at auction. After thinking on it, Avery feels as if she has no choice.

Of course, the night of the auction, Gabriel actually bids and wins Avery – and now she is his for one month in exchange for a million dollars.

Gabriel never forces Avery to have sex – you actually learn he has had a thing for her for quite some time and kind of arranged this entire thing so he could have a chance with her. While Avery is bought by him, she enjoys the pleasure he gives her. He saves her virginity for as long as he can – but does act out in other ways with her. Around the third or fourth day (at least that’s what it seemed like to me) he does take her virginity and none too gently. It seemed it was being cruel on purpose. Afterwards, he left her in the bedroom, alone, bloody and shaken. When she goes to him asking if he was coming back to his room, he tells her NO. He’d gotten what he’d paid for and now he wanted her GONE.

The housekeeper calls a car to take her home and once she there she finds out her father has had a heart attack after learning that the family home has been taken in criminal forfeiture by Gabriel’s company. Avery is livid. She sold her virginity so this wouldn’t happen but Gabriel made it happen anyway. END

Talk about cliffhanger!

I wanted to shake Gabriel by the shoulders for being such a bastard. He was so dark and you get the feeling he likes it just fine that way.

I’m looking for a free copy of the next book, The Knight, because I don’t feel like paying $4.99 for it and the others in there series, but who know, I might cave. 

 

 

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Book Description:

Published: March 14, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Review –

Never Let You Go is a book that brings the reader up close and personal to the inner workings of an abusive relationship. I was truly sickened by the ways Andrew manipulates Lindsey. In flashbacks to their relationship, Stevens doesn’t shy away from showing readers the many ways that Andrew threatened Lindsey into submission. The book isn’t too violent – there is a lot of  instances of emotional and verbal abuse depicted also. Sometimes it was difficult to read a few of these scenes, but it also served to make me even more invested in Lindsey’s wellbeing. I wanted her and her daughter to finally be free of Andrew so badly. Of course, Stevens has a number of tricks up her sleeve, and Lindsey and her daughter have a twisty path to travel in pursuit of that freedom. 

This book is structured in three parts: part one gives readers flashbacks on Lindsey and Andrew’s relationship, alternating between different years in their marriage, allowing readers to see the progression of the violence and control that Andrew exercised over Lindsey. Part two brings readers into the present day, as Lindsey and her daughter try to live their lives alongside Andrew’s release from prison. Part three fast-forwards a few months, showing the reader what has become of Lindsey and her daughter. I loved this plot structure—I found that it gave me a 360-degree view of the lasting effects of an abusive relationship, both on its victims and its perpetrators.

I absolutely loved the plot twists that this story does have, but I kept going back and forth on the “who”— I certainly never saw the “why” coming. I was completely shocked when the final ball drops, and readers realize what’s really going on in Lindsey’s life. Even if you do predict all of the big reveal, I don’t believe it would take away from your enjoyment of the book. This book really isn’t about plot twists, it’s an intimate glimpse into the darkest secrets of its characters, and no amount of plot twist-guessing will take that away from the reader.

It’s a chilling read and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Loved it!

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review –

Another creeper of a book and I loved it FIVE STARS worth!

Sutton is gone but leaves a note saying NOT to try and  find her. She didn’t take ANYTHING with her. NOTHING!

Ethan doesn’t report her missing right away so naturally he’s the first person the police look at. They are both writers and at this point in their careers Sutton is the more prolific and successful. She’s not happy and hasn’t been for a long time. A particular mean book critic is trashing her online, Ethan tricked her into having a baby she didn’t want (he changed out her birth control pills for sugar  pills), her mother (not really her mother) is blackmailing her(we find out this much later),she thinks Ethan may have killed their baby, even though the medical examiner called it as SIDS, and there’s more.

Ethan on the other hand was unfaithful (one time) with Sutton’s best friend. He told her about the infidelity but not who he was with, he has writers block and is jealous of Sutton’s success, and when a body is found burned wearing Sutton’s rings, he is arrested for her murder.

Meanwhile, we learn Sutton has fled to Paris to start a new life, but she can’t get Ethan out of her mind, even when having sex with a man she meets in a cafe. the man seems a bit too friendly, but she throws caution to the wind. Lots of things happen and two American exchange students are killed and the knife is found in Sutton’s (now calling herself Justine) possession. She is arrested by the French police and just when it looked like there was no way out for either of them, a discovery was made as to the possible identity of the true culprit.

There is much much more to story but you need to read it for yourself.  It was a real edge of your seat page turner for me but I didn’t like the what happened at the very end. I thought it to be unnecessary, but still gave it FIVE STARS.

 

 

Wicked Favor (The Wicked Horse Vegas #1) by Sawyer Bennett

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2017

Format: Free Digital Book

New York Times bestselling author, Sawyer Bennett, is happy to introduce a new Wicked Horse club in Las Vegas and you’re cordially invited to attend the grand opening…

As the owner of The Wicked Horse, an elite sex club located along the Vegas Strip, Jerico Jameson never spends the night alone. Gorgeous, ripped, and totally alpha, Jerico doesn’t grant favors and will rarely give you the time of day—unless he wants you in his bed. So when the sister of his sworn enemy shows up asking for help, saying no should be easy. But when Jerico takes one look at her and sees an opportunity to help this beautiful woman while exacting revenge on her brother, he’s not about to pass that up.

Beaten and bruised, Trista Barnes is running out of options, and Jerico is her last chance to get out of the mess she’s in. She doesn’t know why Jerico despises her brother so much, but as long as he can help her, she doesn’t care. Jerico offers her safety while opening her up to a sinful world she never knew existed.

As she succumbs to Jerico’s erotic charm, Trista lets herself fall into the wicked world of guilt free pleasure with no regrets. Under his strong alpha hand, she blooms, and so does Jerico’s possessiveness. But what happens when Trista finds out she was a pawn in Jerico’s game all along, and that the price for his favor was steeper than she ever imagined – her heart.

Review –

I have read the original Wild Horse series so when I saw this book I thought I’d give it a try.

I didn’t like Jerico throughout this entire book, even when he wasn’t acting like he was God’s gift to women. To me he was an asshole, but I’m sure I’m in the minority.

He hated Jayce Barnes for good reasons and plotted to send him sex tapes and pictures of his sister, Trista, for a bit of revenge. Even when his best friend told him it was the wrong thing to do he still went ahead with his plan. He DID change his mind but (now get this) only after Trista baked him is favorite cake, Red Velvet. Sounds like a valid reason, right?

In the end he did do the right thing and got rid of the video and pictures (only where Trista could find them), paid off the real loan shark, bought Trista’s old house and had it fixed up for her Mother and bought a house where he and Trista and Corrine would live. 

The Sex scenes were VERY good, but I thought if Jerico cared for and even loved Trista – he shouldn’t want to SHARE her even if it was one of her fantasies.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, just not Jerico’s character. Will I read the other books in the series. Most likely!

The Prisoner(Criminal & Captives #1)by Annika Martin and Skye Warren

Book Description:

Published: October 22, 2014

Format: E-Book

He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.

Review –

This is definitely a dark, gritty romance. Grayson is in prison for killing a cop (he was framed) and Abigail is there working on a writing assignment for a college class. When Grayson figures out that she is intent on eventually publishing some of the inmates stories as part of an online journal it doesn’t take him long to bribe his way into her class. He needs to get word out to his crew in order to facilitate a break out. Abby is buttoned-up, all prim and proper, and also completely fascinated by the big, hardened prisoner. Grayson is dangerous and her attraction to him leaves her jumpy and confused. But she is determined to finish the assignment.

Predictably, during his prison break, Grayson takes Abby hostage.  She is terrified of what he is going to do to her, but their fascination for each other continues to build. If there isn’t a content warning, there should be because  there are several instances where Grayson’s sexual advances aren’t welcome and even one scene  where Abby has been drugged by Grayson so she can sleep and isn’t completely in control of all of her faculties. Regardless, Abby does slowly come to trust him as she learns of this history and the horror he lived through as  a child. And it is horrific. Her back story is also pretty terrible and in a way made me believe that these two scarred people might be made for each other.

There is a violent bloody beating where Grayson also loses himself and there are twists and turns and a huge change of heart from one of the supporting characters, Stone. It was dark, edgy and a true page turner.

I loved it. If you like DARK AND EDGY, this one is for you.

The sequel, Hostage, has just been released. It is Stone’s story and I can’t wait.

 

Glass House (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In Glass Houses, her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.

Review –

I love this series,The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series, because of the  group of close knit quirky characters and the quaint village of Three Pines where they reside. Within the characters there is a baker, a painter, a book seller, a B&B owner, a bistro owner,  an old, no holds barred poet and Armand Gamache, now chief of the Sûreté du Québec.

There is a murder in the village caused in part by the emergence of a Black Robed Figure (the conscience) stalking someone in the hamlet.  But did the dark thing come for a villager or for one of their guests? The appearance of the black thing coincides with the visit of four out-of-town guests. They are friends from the Université de Montréal who meet for a yearly reunion at the B&B in Three Pines, usually in August but this year it happens to be November first.

All of this is being related by CI Gamache, on the  witness stand in a horribly hot Summer, explaining how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fixture on the village green and morphed slowly into an omen.

Conscience is an overarching theme in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, seeping into the courtroom narrative as Gamache grapples with an enemy much larger than the dark thing, a war on drugs and two separate drug cartels, he took on as the new Chief Superintendent. His victory depends on the outcome, and the path, of this murder trial.

While certain installments in Penny’s bestselling series take Gamache and his team to the far reaches of Québec, others build their tension not with a chase but instead in the act of keeping still—this is one such book. The tension has never been greater, and Gamache has sat for months waiting, and waiting, to act, with Conscience watching close by.

Fantastic story and on the edge of the  seat suspense  and a lot of tears when I feared that a favorite character might have met their end in  gun battle that occurred in the bistro. Thankfully, at the end of the book the character in still in critical condition in the hospital with brain damage but I have every faith in the author, Louise Penney, that she will bring this character back to us in the next installment of this series, which comes out in August of this year.

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Book Description:

Published: September 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

Review –

I don’t know if Mr. Coben plans to make Napoleon “Nap” Dumas into a series but I sure have my fingers crossed.

He’s a well-adjusted (well, sometimes) police detective whose twin brother, Leo, died when he was 18 years old along with his high school girlfriend, Diana. During most of the book he talks to Leo but by the end has decided that fifteen years is long enough to keep up this practice.

He finds out that members of a “conspiracy club”, of which he was not a member, are being murdered and sets out to find the killer and discover the reason behind the deaths. His brother was a member but Diana, Leo’s girlfriend, was not. Do the current murders have to do with the “club” or to a”secret” missile base not far from town.

Nap discovers many dark  secrets along the way to finding the killer of the club members AND his brother and it is a shocker.

Loved this book and highly recommend it.   Five stars!