The Summer Children (The Collector #3) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

Review –

The Summer Children is the third book in the series The Collector by Dot Hutchison. Though I did read it as a standalone, because it has been over two years since I read the first two books in the series. There are characters that come and go in this book who have made their appearance in the previous installments. The Summer Children is a about an FBI team of which Mercedes Ramirez is a member. They are in Crimes Against Children section of the FBI. She has been there for ten years and has helped  and rescued more children than she can count.

The book begins with Mercedes and her girlfriend returning to Mercedes’ home where they come across a little boy waiting for Mercedes. The little boy, Ronnie, is covered in blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings. He claims to be deposited on her porch by the angel who killed his parents. A few days later, Mercedes and her teammate Eliza Sterling return to Mercedes’ place to see three kids on her porch. Sarah, Ashley and Sammy with faces streaked with blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings  say the same thing as well. All the children were brought here by the angel who killed their parents and deposited here because Mercedes would keep them safe. These kids had to watch their parents be killed, and then they were told they’d be safe with Mercedes. Safe because they are all victims of abuse. Ronnie was abused by his father while Sarah by her stepfather. As more and more children from similar backgrounds turn up at Mercedes’ place, the local PD asks to partner with the FBI to solve the crime. And solve it they do.

There is a good plot in this book. While abuse is a thread running strong throughout the book, certain sections of the book have a much horrific version than the rest. Stomach turningly horrific. There is evil in this world and sometimes we choose to ignore it willfully. This is something that a few characters do with confidence in The Summer Children.  But the CAC team tries hard to stop further damage. So, if you are someone who can not read about bad things being done to children, then skip this book.

What I loved about this book was the team in which Mercedes works. A unit that works together in sync and a team that’s more family than friends. Office politics and other distractions do not hinder their investigations or stop them from pursuing criminals. Each of them, be it the head of the unit or the newest member, is involved in their job hoping to save one more child. A noble cause, for which they all have their own reasons to contribute to.

The book starts off a bit slow, but, never does it get boring. There is a nice pace that begins once the children start arriving. It is a book that has blood, sweat and tears and makes us question rules and regulations, between right and wrong.

Again, there is a lot of child abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional in this book.  If you can handle it, then put on your TBR list.

Fantastic read!

 

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

The Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #1) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Triggers: Yes

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.
And I’m the girl who got in their way.

Review –

OMG….I dont even know where to start with this one!! There are NO words! I’m totally #abraygirlforlife !

What do you get when you pair a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with three bad boys who run the town? The answer is: a world that you crave to live in. Boys you salivate over. A girl who is tough as nails, takes no BS from anyone. You get the most amazing story with EVERYTHING. Raven, Maddoc (new book boyfriend), Royce and Captain are just amazing characters, that the author effortlessly makes you fall in love with. All four strong, fierce, loyal and independant. They have a way of getting under you skin and living there.

I had the audio version and listened to it almost in one sitting. I just had to know WTF was going on. The author kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, just waiting for that moment that my jaw would hit the damn floor and pause my listening device and just TRY to slow my heartbeat!  And when it did, boy did I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m so invested in this world, in these characters, in this story.

The level of angst in this book (which is OFF THE CHARTS) had my head spinning and my mind going all over the place. Readers will be in a continual state of “what the actual F***”, then jumping to “oh he** no”, all while their hearts will be racing and their mind will be swimming with questions.

There is so much that goes on in this book that I can not do it justice, so invest in a copy (written or audio) and hang on for the ride of your life. it has drama plus revelations you don’t see coming. There are hot steamy sex scenes and one that will have you blushing from head to toe!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I loved it?

 

A Lesson in Thorns (Thornchapel #1) by Sierra Simone

Book Description:

Published: March 19, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…
***
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes…

Review –

First off, if dirty filthy talk and sex scenes offend you DO NOT read this book.

There’s a little bit of love for everyone in this diverse M/F, M/M, F/F, M/M/F orgy, and holy HOT tamale, was it a sinfully sexy scorcher!

Thornchapel is a mystery and it has an unexplainable pull that sucks you in like gravity. Six children went on an adventure and found themselves in the mystical ruins of the chapel… and years later, now as adults, they find the same pull leading them to the same place they met at as kids.

There is a higher power at play and ancient pagan rituals that have the heir, the dreamer, the priest, the genius, the socialite and the saint binded and bloodied by thorns keeping them anchored to this magical place and captivated by each other. I couldn’t even tell you why because Thornchapel hasn’t revealed all of its secrets yet but I am completely fascinated by this story. The story ends on a giant cliffhanger, so be forewarned. I’m now listening to a book in a different genre so I can decompress before listening to the next installment .

The way the author, Sierra Simone, weaves her words is hypnotic all on its own. This lady could make her grocery list sound poetic and mesmerizing. This is my first book of  hers I’ve tried and it was the cover that first drew me in. Some cover, huh ?

A Dark Lure (Dark Lure#1) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Review –

First, be aware that there may be triggers so some. Included in the book are kidnapping,rape,torture of women,multilation, biting, etc.

Wow, what a ride! This was probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in the last few months.

Basically, it’s a story about survival: Olivia West, sole survivor of the “Watt Lake Killer” who died in prison, works anonymously on Broken Bar Ranch as its manager when a body is discovered. The victim’s remains have been put on display in the same way the dead killer used to do and weird things – coincidences? – begin to happen on Broken Bar Ranch.

A cop who worked on the side-lines of the original Watt Lake case – now dying from cancer – never believed the real killer had been apprehended and, thus, he’s out with his young daughter, Tori, to catch the right guy this time…

It’s hard to find fault with a book that’s as engaging and exciting as this one. Of course, it’s not high literature but it’s nearly perfect for what it is. Frequent switches of perspectives and places take place but I always knew exactly what was going on which is a big plus for me. The backstory of the Watt Lake killer is told by means of a book written by Tori’s late mother and makes for chilling interludes.

The world was natural, beautiful and rugged. The details were lush in description (the Canadian Northwest). Many of the characters and certainly the main characters were all grappling with their pasts, not always sure they wanted the future. Character growth and strength provide the base for a great story.

I loved the personal growth and how hard they fought for life. There were various twists of things, and a few I guessed.  What a pace of terrifying events with the weather to complicate matters. there was the ultimate battle for survival.

I highly recommend this heart-breaking, smart and uplifting tale!

 

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!

 

My Torin by K. Webster

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

I’m a freak, a misfit, an odd end.
Abandoned and unloved.
But my happiness is so close I can taste it.

Until he shows up.

Gorgeous, expensive, and all man.
Sad brown eyes and a brilliant smile.
And he wants me to go with him.

His intentions are hidden.
His motives are unclear.
Yet, I leave with him because there’s no happiness here.

What he promises feels too good to be true…
A castle. A fortune. And horses too.

It’s too easy.
Nothing in my life has ever been easy.

What’s the catch?
There’s always a catch.

Review –

In this book we meet Casey Doe and brother Tyler and Torin Kline.

Casey Doe was abandoned by her crack addicted mother and as a result, Casey was brought into this world addicted to the same drugs her mother was taking whilst pregnant. Casey was raised by the system, moving from foster home to foster home and never really understanding the concept of family, love and warmth.

Casey felt unloved, unwanted and happiness was just a pipe dream that Casey would never have the chance to experience. Being born addicted to cocaine and abandoned, what chance did poor Casey Doe really have in this world?

That is until a wealthy man with sad eyes and a beautiful smile offers to whisk Casey away from the despair that she lives each day. He will give her anything her heart desires in exchange for one thing, herself, not for himself but for his brother, Torin. I’m not going tell you anything about Torin, because trust me when I say he is one character you have to experience for yourself.

My Torin was such a remarkable love story and unlike anything I have read to date. I went into this read completely blind and I urge anyone who reads it to do the same. It was sad and heartbreaking, but also beautiful and inspiring.

To sum it all up in a few words My Torin captures your soul, kidnaps your every thought, manipulates and crushes your heart as it quite literally takes your breath away.

Sorry for not giving you more details but you really need to experience it for yourself.

Excellent read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page or listen to the last sentence!

 

Dirty English(English #1) by Lisa Madden-Mills

Book Description:

Published: October 10, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.

But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.

A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.

She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.

With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.

One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.

*A modern love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice*

Review –

This story is in dual POV, so we have dual narrators for this book and I really loved both of them especially since the male narrator has the sexiest British accent, he is delicious to listen to.

Our story begins with our heroine when she was in high school and thought that she was in love. She grew up poor, in a trailer park, and had nothing except a good brain and a pretty face. But then the most popular boy in school wanted her and she thought that she was in love. And then on the night of prom, he got her drunk and drugged her and she woke up with faded memories of the man she thought she loved having abused and raped her. But he is a senator’s son and knew she didn’t want to face the ridicule of what everyone would think if they knew the truth. But it didn’t matter because that small town viewed her as the town’s slut even though she had been a virgin on that night.

So now she is in college and working on her degree and trying to forget what happened two years previous and having one night stands proves that he didn’t ruin her for sex and also that it helps keep the bad memories at bay so she can function until one night when she goes to a frat party…her first college part with her two best friends and meets up with two twin British brothers…brothers that are very different even if they look alike. But she is drawn to Declan, who is packed with muscle and has tattoos and has an intense gaze that she is compelled by. But she has some serious issues because Declan isn’t a guy that does one night stands and puts his whole heart into a relationship. But she has demons that she needs to face before she can have a relationship with Declan.  

There is some drama between these two, but more out of the heroine’s lack of trust and honesty with Declan more than anything else. Declan is such a solid hero and I have hardly any complaints about him except that he could have had a bit more patience with Elizabeth because of her past and the trauma she had to deal with and that it would cause her serious commitment issues. But I also understood why Declan couldn’t keep be so understanding when Elizabeth kept pushing him away and never giving him a chance to prove to her that he isn’t like her ex. But everything does get resolved in the end quite nicely and I ended up with plenty of good feels that I would expect from a story with some drama like this in it.

Another element that I found somewhat delightful was the use of Pride and Prejudice in this book. Now I wouldn’t say that this story is a Pride and Prejudice retelling because it didn’t feel like that to me at all. However our heroine’s name is Elizabeth Bennett, both hero and heroine LOVE the book and take an English Lit class together which focuses on the story of Pride and Prejudice. So there is a few fun takes on this story that we see that I found to be a charming element to the story.

Sexy read!

 

Cold Blooded (New Orleans #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published:  June 1, 2002

Format: Audio/Audible

His Vengeance Will Be Repeated. . .

A woman’s slashed, incinerated corpse is found in a seedy New Orleans apartment. Her killer is certain there were no witnesses, unaware that his every move was seen by a beautiful stranger–from her bed in a bayou cottage on the outskirts of town. . .

And Repeated. . .

Weeks later, another violent vision shatters Olivia Bechet’s sleep. Convinced a serial killer is stalking the city, Olivia turns to the authorities. But jaded detective Rick Bentz doesn’t believe her–even when a second body turns up, slain in exactly the same bizarre, ritualistic manner Olivia described. . .

And Repeated. . .

As New Orleans panics in the icy grip of a merciless killer, Olivia is frustrated by Bentz’s skepticism–and captivated by her attraction to him. But soon her dreams are invaded by images of another murder. One that has yet to be committed. This time, Olivia recognizes not only the victim’s face–but the murderer’s. And both are closer than she ever imagined. . .

Review –

Another serial killer is wreaking havoc in New Orleans, ( it seems to be the serial killer capital of the world) and it’s up to detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya, the protagonists from Jackson’s previous thriller, Hot Blooded, to catch him. This time around, the detectives are joined by Olivia Benchet, a reluctant psychic who hails from a highly dysfunctional family. Olivia’s visions of a priestly killer who tortures and sacrifices young females provide Bentz and Montoya with their best clues, but Olivia may be the next victim if Bentz doesn’t shrug off his cynicism concerning visions and romantic entanglements with the wild-haired psychic. Twice burned by his former wife, who had an affair with his half-brother, Bentz now lives for work and his rebellious, nineteen year-old daughter, Kristi. The hunt for the murderer escalates when Olivia realizes her visions are a two-way mirror, and the killer has Kristi and Olivia in his sights. Jackson’s sanctimonious serial killer, who refers to himself as The Chosen One, is predictable, but the dynamics between her protagonists, particularly between Bentz and Olivia, are a welcome counterpoint to the violent action. Although some readers may be repulsed by the killer’s sexually sadistic crimes, which are depicted in graphic detail, others will be intrigued by the authors portrayal of the abominations that result when faith and family are perverted. 

Five stars!!!!

 

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !