Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

Review –

Pretty Girls Dancing is Kylie Brant’s latest standalone  novel, and the first book of hers that I’ve tried.  It’s described as a dark thriller, although I disagree.

A series of kidnappings/murders is devastating a small town and the families involved. The world is believed to be done by a serial killer called the Ten Mile Killer (TMK for short). Okay, so a lot of this is probably pretty obvious from the description of the novel. The TMK villain kidnaps and tortures little girls. While the torture is necessarily graphic, it is still very much torture. Bodies are found during the course of the novel, as is (spoiler warning) a surviving victim. While they don’t use the word, it’s very clear that she has been sexually assaulted by her TMK captor. I know these themes can be upsetting to many, so just be aware of them going in.

 

When She Returned by Lucinda Berry

Book Description:

Published: October 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down–her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review –

Dark and disturbing…

When Kate Bennett vanished from a Target parking lot, her husband and daughter never thought they would see her again. But eleven years later, Kate shows up dehydrated and malnourished, showing signs of severe abuse in Montana holding a baby. With Kate returning, her family’s lives are turned upside down. As they struggle to understand what happened with Kate during those years, shocking revelations come to surface and threaten to destroy their lives. The narrative shifts between past and present and is told from the perspectives of Kate(first wife), Meredith(new wife), and Abbi, (daughter). Kate’s story is chilling and full of dread as she recounts the shocking cruelty from her days/years in “captivity”. The author’s exploration of Kate’s complete entrapment in the cult community is both compelling and disturbing. The pace gets hampered in the middle from the monotony of Kate’s story, but Berry threw in another twist that invests readers’ interest until the shocking culmination and what an ending it is!!!

I listened to this while traveling from Oklahoma to Alabama last month and kept my mind off the HUGE semi-trucks that traverse I-40.

Five star read!

 

Close to Home by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson comes an atmospheric and riveting novel of suspense that uncovers the horrifying secrets buried within a ramshackle house. . .

Vowing to make a fresh start, Sarah McAdams has come home to renovate the old Victorian mansion where she grew up. Her daughters, Jade and Gracie, aren’t impressed by the rundown property on the shores of Oregon’s wild Columbia River. As soon as they pull up the isolated drive, Sarah too is beset by uneasy memories–of her cold, distant mother, of the half-sister who vanished without a trace, and of a long-ago night when Sarah was found on the widow’s walk, feverish and delirious.

Ever since the original mistress of the house plunged to her death almost a century ago, there have been rumors that the place is haunted. As a girl, Sarah sensed a presence there, and soon Gracie claims to see a lady in white running up the stairs. Still, Sarah has little time to dwell on ghost stories, between overseeing construction and dealing with the return of a man from her past.

But there’s a new, more urgent menace in the small town. One by one, teenage girls are disappearing. Frantic for her daughters’ safety, Sarah feels her veneer cracking and the house’s walls closing in on her again. Somewhere deep in her memory is the key to a very real and terrifying danger. And only by confronting her worst fears can she stop the nightmare roaring back to life once more. .

Review –

Sarah decides to move back to the family home at Peacock Manor and restore it. So Sarah packs up her daughter Jade and Gracie and moves into the debilitated home uprooting all their lives and creating great teenage anguish for her oldest child Jade. On their first night there Gracie the youngest sees a ghost and becomes fascinated in discovering the family history and helping this ghost to move on. By moving home many things from the past are brought to the front. Sarah’s first and true love Clint is there and that involves many issues that must be dealt with. Jade is convinced she is living in hell and her mother is the cause and the extended family is drama of its own. Then to top it off teenage girls start to go missing and Sarah’s half- brother is a main suspect in the case.

Close to Home is a fast moving mystery with a great background story. The author, one of my new favorites,  is a masterful writer and you think you know who did it but you are wrong and that’s what you get for being a know it all. There is so much involved in the lives of these people that you can’t stop reading. You are drawn into their lives and try so hard to figure out what the next move should be to help them get all the problems taken care of so they can just live their lives.

The characters are far from perfect people, they have all done things wrong and made mistakes but you truly like who they are and are fascinated by their stories. This book is full of suspense and truly chilling at times. The things people do and their sick ways fascinates in a macabre manner and Lisa Jackson has a way of writing it that keeps you wanting more.

Great read.

 

Split Second (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell #1) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2004

Format: Audio/Library Book

Stars: 4

Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air. Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes. Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.

Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the two discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making – and are a long way from over….

Review –

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

The author sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in big trouble with the Secret Service.  Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Although there are a lots of critics about the lack luster characters in this book and series, I’ve only read the first two and I find the books on point with traits of any crime thriller: drama, suspense, mystery and a bit of possible romance.

 

 

 

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie .

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.

When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.

Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.

Review –

Another great novel by Kimberly Belle. The author writes about everyday, average people thrust into terrifying situations in such a relatable, yet exciting manner that you can’t help getting sucked into her books within just a few pages.

This is told alternately from Kat’s point of view as she searches for her missing son Ethan and then Stef who is married to the mayor and who’s son Sammy was Ethan’s classmate. Kat’s fear and anguish was tangible, Belle’s writing was so fantastic that it became a living, breathing thing that consumed me almost as much as it consumed Kat herself. I kept thinking, this woman could be me, how horrifying to not know where your child is after you’ve trusted his teacher and school to keep him safe on a field trip, it was scary to put it mildly. Besides the well crafted characters you have this highly tense atmosphere coupled with some gut punching twists that left me reeling, I couldn’t ask for more.

The ending of The Marriage Lie is one of my all time favorites and this one was excellent as well, it was executed to perfection and left me completely satisfied and impressed. Missing children premises are nothing new but the author managed to put a fresh spin on the idea and managed to make me excited about a plot that’s been done before because she puts her unique stamp on it.

Loved it!

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

Review –

It was supposed to be book club as usual: a group of suburban mothers gathering to talk over a glass of wine or two and then going home to bed. But when new neighbor Angelica Roux shows up at hostess Amy’s door, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. The booze flows freely, and soon the women are engaged in a game: What is the worst thing you did today? This week? This month? In your life? There are many women in the gathering with secrets to protect, but none more than Amy, who, as a teenager, committed a terrible crime that almost destroyed her. Saved by her love for diving, and then by meeting her husband and stepdaughter, Amy has worked hard to build a normal, stable life; she even has a new baby.

Angelica has come to threaten all of this; she clearly knows about Amy’s past and will expose her to her loved ones if Amy doesn’t pay her. As Amy tries desperately to outscheme Angelica, she also realizes just how much she has to fight for—and what she might be willing to do to keep her family safe and her secrets buried.

This is a fantastic book and once you start reading or listening(as in my case), you can’t bear to stop.

There are so many twists and turns. Just when i thought I knew the motive for all of Roux’s actions, the author throws a curve ball that puts the story in a totally different direction. No spoilers, but you don’t get to the true crux of the plot until the end and what an ending it is!

Five stars!

Cake (Cake #1) by J. Bengtsson

Book Description:

Published: May 14, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Jake McKallister might have been a rock star, but he was no ordinary one. Surviving an unspeakable crime as a young teen had shaped him into a guarded workaholic, and he now lived his life trying to forget. If it hadn’t been for music and the redemption he found through it, he might not have survived. Career success came easily for him. Personal connections did not.

When outspoken, vivacious college student Casey Caldwell was paired with the famously reserved rockstar for a friend’s wedding, she was prepared for the worst. What could they possibly have in common? She was a bubbly talker; he was a reclusive loner. His life was filled with music; she couldn’t carry a tune. She’d enjoyed a happy childhood; his was a well-publicized nightmare.

Yet despite their obvious differences, Jake and Casey found each other, and her light balanced out his darkness. Would their love be strong enough to survive the weight of his tragic past?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a *full-length* standalone romance. Cake is a love story at heart but does deal with a sensitive topic and may not be for all.
Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of eighteen.

Review –

I’ve had this book in my Audible library for a very long time but never got around to listening to it until now.

I thought ‘what in the world does CAKE have to do with a Rock Star themed contemporary romance?’ Is that the name of the band? But, no, CAKE is an acronym of the names of the two main characters.

I don’t  read rock star romances too often,(they are my favorite) but this book was delightful. Now it might not be for everyone especially if you are expecting a steamy read. Because this book has only one or two bedroom scenes and they aren’t too detailed (the sex is mostly implied) but I found the chemistry between these two just wonderful. And their fun bantering from the beginning just draws you in immediately. Seeing Casey go on tour with Jake for the summer and then seeing their relationship take on a great test with facing Jake’s past and seeing that these two work together and that they don’t give up on each other was heart-warming and heart wrenching at the same time. There is conflicts of course, but NOT in the relationship. I love that the minute that they are “together”, they never stop fighting for each other and keep working on their relationship and making sure it’s as strong as ever.

There are some hints of darkness though when dealing with Jake’s past and seeing him work through this was really hard to see because Jake is so talented and kind and down to earth and he has really gone through hell and back and is still fighting for his sanity and his past does haunt his intimate relationship with Casey. But Casey….she is a fighter, she never stops loving him or standing by him. She is very true to Jake and is willing to stay by his side through the good and the bad times and I LOVE this aspect to the romance. They go on an incredible journey and it definitely was written so well and tugged at my heartstrings.

Fantastic read!

 

The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil #1) by Kristen Ashley

Book Description:

Published: December 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips through his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.

Review –

I fell in love with Izzy and Johnny almost instantly. Their chemistry together was the kind that would take up all the air in a room.

The Hookup is the first in a new series, Moonlight and Motor Oil, based on a pair of wealthy alphas and the women who tame them. Set in the small town of Matlock, KY, the premise is classic. An overprotective quiet alpha whose heart was trampled meets and reluctantly falls for a sweet and sassy woman whose innocence and joy of life helps to glue his broken heart back together. Family, redemption, loyalty, and second chances are the themes on which this story is built as Johnny learns to love again while Izzy learns she is worth loving.

The Hookup is very low key (until the end) and exceptionally chatty.The  majority of the book is spent  watching our couple have sex (great hot sex) and get to know one another. The secondary cast is introduced, giving Izzy and Johnny a personable posse of friends and family who pop in and out as the author uses them to introduce the conflicts to come and to create some mild drama and background to this couple’s journey.

Fantastic read and the start of a wonderful series, and I LOVE the look of the cover.

Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Review –

Wolfhunter River is Rachel Caine’s third book in her Stillhouse Lake series (after Stillhouse Lake and Killman .

Gwen Proctor is an amazing character—flawed, brave, vulnerable, fierce, and utterly protective of her children. I found the first two books in this series absolutely spectacular, tautly plotted and full of action and suspense, and they provided a disturbing view into the heart of evil and how it can spread.

I found that this book took a little longer to build up steam, and once it did, there was so much going on and so many things were tangled together that the plot even got a little muddled. It felt like in trying to build on the intensity of the first two books, the author thought she had to triple the suspense. Fortunately, there is still a lot of character development, and we learn more about Sam’s life before he and Gwen met.

This book might be more of a standalone than the first two books were, but I’d still recommend you start reading the series from the beginning. Caine sure does love to keep you guessing about how the plot will unfold! I’m not sure if she intends to keep writing about Gwen, but I hope she does, because she’s definitely full of possibilities.

If you’re a fan of creepy, well-written, suspenseful thrillers, I’d encourage you to pick up this series, starting with Stillhouse Lake. You may find yourself wondering just how you’d react if faced with the same situations Gwen was, and whether you’d be a total badass like she is.

 

The Next Girl (Detective Gina Harte #1) by Carla Kovach

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

Review –

Four years ago, wife and mother Deborah Jenkins disappeared without a trace. The police did everything possible to find her but it was all to no avail. Her husband, mother, and two young children have all come to terms with her probable death, and although it hasn’t always been easy, each of them has begun to figure out what life will look like without Deborah there. And then, an abandoned infant is found outside a nearby library, an infant who’s DNA matches Deborah’s, and suddenly, the investigation into Deborah’s disappearance is active once more.

Detective Gina Harte remembers the Jenkins case well. She wasn’t the lead investigator back then, but she’s familiar with the investigation nonetheless, and now that Deborah’s case is in the forefront of everyone’s minds again, she’s determined to reunite the woman with her family, no matter what it takes. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. The original detectives did their job thoroughly, and in spite Gina’s efforts to find something they missed, nothing jumps out at her. But Gina knows that Deborah is out there somewhere, most likely the victim of unimaginable horrors. After all, how else could she have given birth to the baby girl who was left outside the library?

Gina would love to devote all her attention to the Jenkins case, but her personal life is pretty messy. Her adult daughter is in the process of planning a memorial celebration for her late father, a man who had once turned Gina’s very existence into a living nightmare. Gina doesn’t want to participate in the celebration, but neither does she want to ruin her daughter’s memories of her father, so she keeps the truth to herself, something which pushes the two women further apart. And, as if all that isn’t enough, Gina is sleeping with one of her direct superiors. Neither of them would go so far as to call what they have an actual relationship, but they’re both aware it’s very much against the rules, so they’ve been meeting in secret for the past several months.

The story is told from four different points of view. Most of our time is spent with Gina, but we also see things from the perspectives of Deborah, her husband Luke, and Deborah’s captor. For the most part, this narrative style works well, although spending a significant time in Deborah’s head took a little bit away from the mystery itself. The identity of her captor isn’t revealed until the end of the story, but his motivation for abducting Deborah is laid out pretty early on. Fortunately, there were still a number of things to be discovered about Deborah’s ordeal, and Gina’s race to uncover the truth definitely kept me listening.

If violence against women is a trigger for you, you’re might not want to pick up this book. Deborah suffers horribly at the hands of her abductor, and the author goes into quite a bit of detail about what has been done to her over the years of her captivity. Plus, Gina’s former husband was terribly abusive, and she is still dealing with flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed with book and look forward to reading the next one.