Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

Review –

I just finished listening to my first “read” by Tijan. I saw it recommended on an Instagram feed and saw it was available in the Audible Romance Package so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did!

Summer had a one night stand with her step brother Kevin. Kevin is a GIANT douche. (I wanted to strangler his most of the time)I was more than a little irritated with Summer because she watched him parade girls in and out of his life, cheating on them and using them. But, she was somehow convinced she would be different. You can guess how that turned out…

Kevin’s fraternity brother Caden runs into Summer a few times and they strike up an odd friendship. I liked this aspect of the story. Weeks go by of them just hanging out and doing normal stuff-watching TV, studying, going bowling. To me, THIS is how a real relationship begins. Caden is not a fan of Kevin (WOOHOO!!!) and the 2 have come to blows before.

Because the story is told only from Summer’s point of view, you never really know whats up with Caden. He has a bit of a reputation at the school for being standoffish and ‘above’ everyone else. I was always curious about what was going on in his head. I think it adds to the tension of the story. As Summer is starting to have feelings for him, you really have no idea how he feels. And, as we already established, Summer doesn’t exactly have good skills at reading people.

I loved that Summer didn’t change who she was either. She is kind of weird and a bit scattered at times. She didn’t want to change her appearance or be a person she wasn’t. She kind of just embraced her personality. She admitted to being dull in high school and she didn’t want to be that any more; However, she didn’t have to change her personality or who she was in order to be ‘not dull’. It was refreshing to read a college aged character who wasn’t so debilitatingly self-conscious and desperate to be someone she isn’t.

I did get a bit irritated at the back and forth romance. She has feelings for Kevin, then she doesn’t, then she does. Then she loves Caden, he tells her she doesn’t love him. It’s so NA but it really gets kind of old after a while. You just want to say “enough already”!

It’s classified as NA (New Adult) and I would also say it is “soft smut” because of the sexual situations and the implied sex happenings. Just goes to show that an author doesn’t have to use explicit sex to make a scene hot and steamy!

Loved the story and will be reading more from this author.

 

 

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Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

Review –

When her best friend commits suicide after being dumped by a worthless man, Jane, a self-described sociopath, decides revenge will be slow and sweet.

In this suspenseful, creepy thriller, Jane travels to Minneapolis after her friend, Meg, commits suicide. Jane isn’t sure she herself has ever felt love, or any emotion other than hatred for her abusive family. But college roommate Meg gave Jane her best chance at seeing how normal people lived. When Meg became involved with Steven, though, she turned from a funny, bold woman into a submissive girl who accepted Steven’s cruel comments and control, until in her despair she killed herself. Now Jane has insinuated herself at Steven’s company. She pretends  to be just the sort of woman Steve wants—meek, mousy, and needy. It’s fascinating to hear Jane, who narrates the novel, comment on her plans and observations of others. The author does a fantastic job of creating in Jane a complex character, making her both scary and more than a little appealing. As the novel progresses, our view of Jane gradually shifts. Is Jane really a sociopath or the rare woman who doesn’t care what others think? And which of us wouldn’t at least dream of sweet revenge against those who cause such pain? Stone even provides the perfect ending, which can’t be commented on without ruining its perfection.

This beautifully balanced thriller will keep readers tense, surprised, pleased, and surprised again as a master manipulator unfolds her plan of revenge.

Fantastic  read !

Innocence Defied (New York #3) by Lainey Reese

Book Description:

Published: July 16, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Gage Hollister is a Southern Dom looking for a full time sub/slave. When his family’s business brings him to New York City for an indefinite stay, he decides that now is the time to find her. Night after night he prowls the local BDSM club in search of a woman whose need to be dominated equals his thirst for true submission. As the search drags on he begins to wonder if his perfect match even exists. When he is asked to play chaperone for a family friend embarking on her first trip as an adult; he welcomes the chance for distraction from his thus far fruitless endeavor.

Zoe Marshall is the youngest sister to Gage’s best friend and she has been in love with Gage for as long as she can remember. She has saved herself for him and him alone. Now, after careful planning and a bit of luck she finally has her opportunity to show Gage that she’s all grown up and ready to be his. Although he believes himself too old and jaded for an innocent like her, Zoe will not relent until she belongs to him in every way.

Soon Gage’s resistance crumbles and Zoe’s dreams become reality but their budding love is tested when her brother discovers them. As those bonds of friendship strain under betrayal and broken trust, Zoe is confronted with having to choose between the man she loves and the brother she worships. Will having the love of her man cost her the love of her family? If so, is her heart strong enough to survive that loss? Is their love?

WARNING
This book contains graphic language, BDSM elements, M/F/M ménage, a Southern Dom who’s a gentleman; and the woman who brings out the scoundrel in him.

Review –

We met Gage Hollister in the last book in this series and he made quite an impression but we soon find out there is a whole lot more to Gage but all it takes is one little woman to turn him upside down and inside out. I really felt for him because Zoe Marshall, Gage’s best friend, Brice’s little sister has decided he’s the one for her and despite their 13 year age different she aims to make him see her as a woman. Gage finds himself in one hell of a mess when he finds Zoe irresistible and despite her innocence and lack of experience they fall head first into a BDSM relationship.

I felt Gage did a very good job of trying to dissuade Zoe from getting involved with him, and while I didn’t care for the little game she played to grab his attention I reminded myself how young she is and how little life experience she has. Did I think their relationship was ideal? No, the age and experience level differences were huge but I do believe Zoe knew her mind and once Gage was on board it was easy to see that they were meant to be. I like that Gage slowly introduced Zoe into the lifestyle and how careful he was with her from the start. I was not surprised by the reaction of Brice, Cade and Trevor and to be honest I was truly surprised Gage didn’t wind up in the hospital BUT, and this is huge, I love how Gage reminded Brice that he trusted him with his wife but he wasn’t good enough for his sister.

One of my favorite things about this book is getting to see Cade, Trevor, and Riley from the first book and Brice and Terryn from book two. I loved watching them all interact with one another and even when they were at odds, you could still see the love, admiration, and friendship between them all. I especially loved Terryn’s insight and her level head regarding Zoe and Gage’s relationship.

Another great book in the New York series.

The Young and the Submissive(The Dom of Her Life #2) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob and Isabella LaPearl

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Raine Kendall has everything a woman could want…almost. Sexy, tender Dom Liam O’Neill is her knight in shining armor, but Raine is constantly pinching herself. Is he too good to be true or is this growing connection one that could last a lifetime? She’s constantly torn by her abiding feelings for her commanding boss, Macen “Hammer” Hammerman, especially in the wake the mind-blowing night he cast aside the barriers between them and ravaged every inch of her body.

Hammer, Liam’s former best friend, can’t stop coveting Raine. But Liam is determined to hold and guide the woman he loves and see if she can be the submissive of his dreams. However, he’s finding that her trust is hard won and he needs a bloody crowbar to pry open her scarred soul. So he risks everything to win her once and for all. But once he’s put his daring plan in motion, will it cost Liam his heart if he loses Raine to Hammer for good?

Review –

WARNING:  This book has a menage m/m/f and explicit sex and BDSM.

I read the first book in The Doms of Her Life series in 2016. See https://kathysbookbag.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/one-dom-to-love-the-doms-of-her-life-1-by-shayla-blackjenna-jacob-isabella-lapearl/

I never got around to read the others so I looked on Audible and they are included in the Romance Package, which I have so I thought I’d try the next book in line.

This book continues the story of Raine, Macen and Liam.  As the prior book ended, the two men were engaged in a competition to win the woman they both love.  In this book, Liam realizes that he is not making progress with Raine’s submission.  As he learns more about her past, he recognizes that he alone will not be able to heal Raine.  When he and Macen put aside their differences to help Raine, Liam can’t help but fear that he might help Raine, but lose her.

These characters are beginning to reveal themselves to one another.  Secrets and pain are shared and thus the beginnings of what might be a strong stable relationship is being developed.

Raine does get on my nerves at times, she seems so whiney  but maybe it is just the narrator. I am definitely Team Liam but I’m afraid his gentleness could be his undoing.

I love this series!

Us Against You (BearTown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Review –

Shockwaves from the incidents in Beartown, the first book, shake an economically depressed hockey town in this latest from the author of A Man Called Ove.

“Swedish novelist Backman loves an aphorism and is very good at them; evident in all his novels is an apparent ability to state a truth about humanity with breathtaking elegance. Often, he uses this same elegance to slyly misdirect his readers. Sometimes he overreaches and words that sound pretty together don’t hold up to scrutiny. This novel has a plethora of all three. Grim in tone, it features an overstocked cast of characters, all of whom are struggling for self-definition. Each has previously been shaped by the local hockey club, but that club is now being defunded and resources reallocated to the club of a rival town. Some Beartown athletes follow, some don’t. Lines are drawn in the sand. Several characters get played by a Machiavellian local politician who gets the club reinstated. Nearly all make poor decisions, rolling the town closer and closer to tragedy. Backman wants readers to know that things are complicated. Sure, many of Beartown’s residents are bigots and bullies. But some are generous and selfless. Actually, the bigots and bullies are also generous and selfless, in certain circumstances. And Lord knows they’ve all had a rough time of it. The important thing to remember is that hockey is pure. Except when it inspires violence. This is an interesting tactic for a novel in our cultural moment of sensitivity, and it can feel cumbersome. “When guys are scared of the dark they’re scared of ghosts and monsters,” he writes. “But when girls are scared of the dark they’re scared of guys.” Margaret Atwood said it better and with more authority decades ago.

Backman plays the story for both cynicism and hope, and his skill makes both hard, but not impossible, to resist.” Kirkus Reviews

The author gave us feelings of the highest highs and then dashed us back down to earth with the lowest lows. I was a nervous wreck for the entire book.  You will have to read the book (and why wouldn’t you) to know what I mean when I say that Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller and has a genius brain to keep everything straight when he wrote the accident scene near the very end of the book. I am in awe!

Five stars !!!!!

The purity of Vengeance (Department Q #4) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her in her youth, including Curt Wad, a charismatic surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in 1950s Denmark.

More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that destroyed the lives of his two partners—the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. As they sift through the disappearances, they get closer and closer to Curt Wad, who is more determined than ever to see the vision of his youth take hold and whose brutal treatment of Nete and others like her is only one small part of his capacity for evil.

With The Purity of Vengeance, Jussi Adler-Olsen delivers a thrilling and shocking addition to his bestselling Department Q series.

Review –

Another cold case for the odd team of Copenhagen’s Department Q, together with two more incomplete blasts from the past for Detective Carl Mørck.

Except for the prostitute who reported her missing, no one much cared when brothel keeper Rita Nielsen vanished back in 1987, and it’s no wonder the case languished. Now, however, the mystery assumes new urgency with the news that she wasn’t the only one to disappear. The very same day, attorney Philip Nørvig, fisherman Viggo Mogensen, womens asylum guard Gitte Charles and do-nothing Tage Hermansen also went AWOL. Furthermore—though it takes Carl, his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his secretary, Rose Knudsen, quite a while to work this out—they all had links to Tage’s cousin Nete Hermansen, long immured in a Sprogø home for fallen women, whose second chance at a respectable life was dashed when Dr. Curt Wad, a stalwart of the Purity Party, confronted her and her businessman husband publicly with some sordid details of her past. The author cuts back and forth between the fatal day in 1987 when Nete decided to avenge herself on the people who had ruined her life and the present day, when Carl’s investigation of both Nete and Wad is complicated by rumors that Carl helped his cousin Ronny kill Ronny’s father many years ago and further hints of the horrific fatality that first sent Carl to Department Q. Fans of this series can rest assured that neither of these lesser subplots comes anywhere near closure.

There is a surprise twist at the very end that, I dare say, no one saw coming. (I love it when that happens!)

Fantastic read!

 

Closed Circles (Sandhamn Murders #2) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It’s a beautiful day for a regatta—until one of Sandhamn Island’s most prestigious residents is killed aboard his sailing yacht.

Oscar Juliander was a rich lawyer and deputy chairman of the prestigious Royal Swedish Yacht Club. While at first his death seems like a tragic accident, there is evidence of foul play. Police detective Thomas Andreasson teams up with local lawyer Nora Linde to investigate. As they work to uncover clues, they face resistance from an elite world where nothing but appearance matters.

When the rich and powerful inhabitants of Sweden’s idyllic island getaway come under scrutiny, Thomas and Nora must work closely and secretively to seek justice.

Review –

The murders destroy the island’s calm and make the resident’s anxious.  Last’s summers murder were, they were sure, an anomaly.  Now there are more.  And worse, respected members of the community.  It is also a closed community, one with plenty of secrets that they don’t want to share with the detective in charge, Thomas.

Thankfully, he’s dedicated and dogged and unlikely to give up.  He’s also really likeable and pretty well balanced, avoiding the many stereotypes of dysfunctional police officers with family issues and drinking problems.  Whilst not everything in his life is perfect, he handles it like a grown up – and manages to set it aside when working on the case.  

His best childhood friend, Nora ,a lawyer at a bank, she spends her summers on Sandhamn so it makes perfect sense for Thomas to ask for her help on the case.  They don’t team up, she is on the periphery of the investigation – though does help it come to it’s conclusion. I could have felt cheated by this if I hadn’t been so caught up in Nora’s own story, which runs parallel to the investigation and isn’t crime related at all but very personal.

This might have been a distraction but wasn’t at all,  and is a testament to how well both characters were developed and how well written (and translated) the book was.  It had a good pace and a good plot – simple but with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until close to the end. And, speaking of the end, it was a total surprise and added a bit of “well, there you go” to the book. 

Fantastic series!!!

Still Waters (Sandman Murders #1) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

Review-

As you can see, I finally got around to reading the first in the Sandman Murders series and I’m kinda glad I did hear this series out of order.

I learned many things in this book that related back to the two other books that I have already read and it made it more enjoyable. Had I read the books in order the incidents in Book One would have been just that-incidents, but with the background I already have the incidents make others things become crystal clear.

The story starts with the introduction of the setting of a crime. The weather is hot, it’s July and a body is found on one of Sweden’s islands named Sandhamn. The body is a horrible sight to behold as it is entangled in a fishing net. Thomas Anderson is the police detective that has been assigned to the case. He is also the first person to arrive at the spot. A little research helps him identify the victim. The victim’s name is Krister Briggren. Krister has been missing for a number of months or so the official reports say.

Thomas’ investigation leads him to believe that the death was an accident till something happened to change his beliefs. A local bed and breakfast reported another body. The body was identified as Krister’s cousin. Thomas attempts to solve the mystery with the help of an old friend named Nora Linde! 

The story revolves around  a very intriguing plot and  are the  police  right when they believe that the death was an accident? There is a huge surprise twist in the story and makes for a very emotional discovery for  Nora and to me since through reading three books I am acquainted with the character involved and couldn’t believe it!

I love this series and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who loves a good  murder mystery.

The Reunion by Samatha Hayes

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

They were all there the day your sister went missing…Who is lying? Who is next?

Then–In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom. Eleanor never came back.

Now–The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

Review –

Have you noticed that there seems to be an abundance of children going missing crime/psychological thrillers on the market at the moment, and wasn’t convinced that author would be able to put an original spin on a well used subject, but somehow she does.

The book begins with the disappearance of teenager Eleanor, while spending the day at the beach with her brother, sister and their friends. Fast forward twenty one years and her family are still no closer to knowing what happened to her all those years ago. Dad, Patrick is now suffering from Alzheimers, and daughter Claire decides that a reunion of friends and family could help her dad with his memory issues. As the group of friends are reunited they find themselves plunged into a further nightmare as shocking secrets are slowly revealed.

If I’m honest I thought the first half of the book was very slow, the time is spent introducing an array of characters and building on the mystery and suspense surrounding Eleanor’s disappearance. None of the characters were extremely likable, but that said it did not stop me enjoying this book. The author manages to ramp up the tension by creating characters that are almost impossible to trust.

The Reunion has some great twists and misleading clues to make this an intense and a heart pounding  read. If I had anything negative to say it would be that a few things were left unanswered by the time I reached the end, but never the less it still made for an intriguing read and I gave it five stars!

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Book Description:

Published: January 23, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review –

This book is told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the freshness that  new friend,Kat, brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, but she begins to realize that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems.

It is very interesting as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, and  all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and the action builds to a huge reveal that leaves the reader wondering which of the two women is more twisted. Fans of psychological thrillers will be very well satisfied.

Fantastic read! Five stars!