The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors–a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Review –

Holy Smokes! What a roller coaster ride!

The Couple Next Door had me gripped right from the very beginning. It essentially follows the disappearance of Marco and Anne’s baby daughter Cora, who is taken from her bed one night while the couple attend a dinner party next door. The couple are racked with guilt, and as the investigation continues, more and more secrets and betrayals are revealed…

The narrative is told in the third-person and follows the experiences of Anne, Marco, Detective Rasbach and Jennings, the couple’s next door neighbour Cynthia, and Anne’s parents Richard and Alice. The narrative provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of all of the characters, as they attempt to piece together the puzzle that is Cora’s disappearance.

Anne and Marco are the central protagonists. Anne, suffering with Postpartum (or Postnatal) depression after the birth of her daughter Cora, is racked with guilt and anxiety after her disappearance. She struggles to cope emotionally, and seeks comfort from her parents and husband. Her motherly instincts take over, and she will ultimately do anything to save her daughter. But of course, she has a few secrets lurking in her own past.

Marco is strong and determined, and puts on a brave face to support his wife. But deep down he is really struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and Cora’s disappearance challenges everything he thought he knew. I flitted between hating Marco and feeling sympathy for him, and if you read the book you’ll discover why. He makes some major mistakes, and must pay the price for them. Marco is a much more complex character than he first appears to be.

The other minor characters are all excellently portrayed. Rasbach and Jennings attempt to solve the case as efficiently as they can, but when lots of new clues and curveballs are thrown in, the investigation becomes difficult. Anne’s parents Richard and Alice are incredibly rich, and it seems they will do anything to get their grandchild back. And the neighbors Cynthia and Graham are much more complex than they first appear to be.

As the narrative goes on, more and more mysteries and secrets are revealed. This is a novel where you think you know where the story is going – but then the author throws in a clever curveball, and all expectations are reversed. There is an excellent attention to detail in this highly-complex narrative – it’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” kind of narrative. It does require lots of concentration and attention from the reader, but is definitely worth it in my opinion.

So, let’s talk about the ending. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the final ending, and to me that majorly let the book down. I was pleased with what I thought was the final revelation, as it gave a sense of hope for the future of the characters. But then a new element in thrown into the story, and to me it just seemed unnecessary and too exaggerated to be deemed as realistic and for me, ruined the whole story. One minute there was a happy ending and the next there was anything but.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who like domestic thrillers, particularly if you enjoy reading complex, multi-layered plots. It has excellently-constructed characters, plenty of mystery and suspense, and killer twists. The ending did really disappoint me, but don’t let that put you off – you might enjoy it! A great read.

 

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Paradise Valley (The Highway Quartet #4) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: July 25, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She almost caught him once. Now, he’s back.

For three years, Investigator Cassie Dewell has been on a hunt for a serial killer known as the Lizard King whose hunting grounds are the highways and truck stops where runaways and prostitutes are most likely to vanish. Cassie almost caught him…once.

Working for the Bakken County, North Dakota sheriff’s department, Cassie has set what she believes is the perfect trap and she has lured him and his truck to a depot. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the blame falls on Cassie. Disgraced, she loses her job and investigation into her role is put into motion.

At the same time, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled kid whom Cassie has taken under her wing, has disappeared after telling people that he’s going off on a long-planned adventure. Kyle’s grandmother begs Cassie to find him and, with nothing else to do, Cassie agrees—all the while hunting the truck driver.

Now Cassie is a lone wolf. And in the same way that two streams converge into a river, Kyle’s disappearance may have a more sinister meaning than anyone realizes. With no allies, no support, and only her own wits to rely on, Cassie must take down a killer who is as ruthless as he is cunning. But can she do it alone, without losing her own humanity or her own life?

Review –

This excellent conclusion to a quartet of loosely related novels that started with 2011’s Back of Beyond finds Cassie Dewell now the chief investigator for the Bakken County (N.D.) Sheriff’s Department. Cassie convinces her boss, Sheriff John Kirkbride, to approve a sting operation designed to entrap serial killer Ronald Pergram, an independent trucker who preys on truck stop prostitutes. Having eluded capture in 2013’s The Highway, the cunning Pergram gets wind of the plan and booby traps his truck, which explodes and kills several local police and feds involved in the operation, including Cassie’s fiancé. In the aftermath, Cassie is suspended and obnoxious county attorney Avery Tibbs subsequently forces her to resign. Meanwhile, Pergram goes on a kidnapping spree that leads to Cassie to contact Bull Mitchell, who we met in the first book when he led Cody Hoyt into the back trails of the park, and together they put together a tracking party and go into the park to hunt down the Lizard King. Cassie along with the ingenuity of Kyle bring down the pervert in an anti climatic end. She is later offered a job in Montana and she and her family settle down once again in new territory but this time, everyone is in agreement.

Just a warning, there is violence and a lot of  edge of your seat action. A good ending to a series that kills off a main character in book one. Just saying.

 

Tyrant (King #2) by T.M. Frazier

Book Description:

Published: August 16, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

I. Remember. Everything.

Only now I wish I didn’t.

When the fog is sucked away from my mind like smoke through a vacuum, the truth that has been beyond my reach for months finally reveals itself.

But the relief I thought I would feel never comes, and I’m more afraid now than I was the morning I woke up handcuffed in King’s bed.

Because with the truth comes dark secrets I was never meant to know.

I will put the lives of those I love most at risk if I let on that my memory has returned, or if I seek help from the heavily tattooed felon who owns me body and soul.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist the magnetic pull toward King that grows stronger every day.

He’s already saved me in more ways than one. Now it’s my turn to do whatever it takes to save him.

Even if that means marrying someone else…

Review –

Holy Cow! I didn’t think anything would top King, but I was seriously wrong. Tyrant was even better than the first book. T.M. Frazier has added so many twists and turns to Tyrant.

Tyrant picks up right where King left off. King has returned Pup AKA Ramie back to her family in exchange for his daughter, Max. Although he reasoning’s are just, for Pup it felt like a betrayal. Pup has no memory of her past she trusted and believed he loved her. Now she is back with “her family” and for her they are strangers, unknown and she feels out-of-place. Pup struggles to remember anything about her past, her home, her family and her finance Tanner. Although Pup has no memory of Sammy she knows for sure he is her son. When she looks at him she sees a piece of her in him and she feels deep in heart that he is her child. I felt for Pup she tries so hard to put the pieces of her vague life together while being a good mother for Sammy all constantly remembering King.

King is King, I love him even when I hated  his actions. I loved this character. Never once did King’s character change. He was still KING. He knows in time he would have gone after his Pup. He thought he was doing the right thing. There is danger from an incident that happened in the first book. One that is determined to make King pay. If we all know King, he never backs down. Come on he is the KING! King was going to go after Pup and remind her that she belongs to him and that he would be back. She is everything to him and he won’t let anyone keep him for her. We get to see a new side to King. A primal side in him, his alpha male ways are heightened even more since learning about Tanner. (Gag, Tanner)

Let me say things took a turn to the dark and crazy side after King gets to Pup. This was basically Pups story, in her trying to piece together her past. I was so involved when she had would remember something, that I was taking notes. MY heart broke for Pup because you can see her struggle to try to find where she fits in and it saddened me when she only needed King. As I mentioned King is still Badass so when he finally figures out what is going on, there is no stopping him. 

This book is super violent and the author leaves nothing to the imagination and there may be triggers for some readers.

Although this book ends King and Doe’s story it’s not an easy one to read or listen to. Be prepared.

Five stars.

 

Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #23) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Description:

Published: December 2, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive/Second Reading

“Enjoying pain with your pleasure is something you either get, or you don’t. If you get it, then you don’t really need it explained, because you know how good it feels, and if you don’t get it then no amount of talking is going to convince you it makes sense.”

But sometimes you have to explain the unexplainable, especially if the love of your life needs to understand, or she’ll leave you. Jason Schuyler is one of Anita Blake’s best friends and favorite werewolves, with benefits. J.J. is his lady love, an old flame from childhood who dances at one of the top ballet companies in New York. She’s accomplished, beautiful, and she’s crazy about him, too. Neither of them wants to be monogamous, so what could go wrong?

J.J. is enthusiastically bisexual, with an emphasis on the female side of things. She plans to keep sleeping with women, because Jason can’t meet that need, just like she can’t meet Jason’s need for rough sex and bondage. J.J. doesn’t understand why Jason isn’t content to go elsewhere for a need she can’t fulfil, so Jason asks Anita to help him explain.

Anita is having her own relationship growing pains with her only female lover ever, Jade. Jason suggests that J.J. might be able to help Anita with her girl problem, while she helps him with his kinky explanations. With some encouragement from a few other lovers in Anita’s life she reluctantly agrees, and J. J. makes plans to fly into town for an experience that none of them will ever forget.

Review –

I started the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series at number fifteen and have read all but the most recent. That being said, when Jason, which is number twenty-three, became available on OverDrive it sounded very familiar so I checked and I had read it in January of 2015 and gave it three stars for a lack of a real plot and the over abundance of sex. I thought, what the heck, and decided to LISTEN to it this time and I gave it four stars for the same reasons, but I did  enjoy it more this time. 

Like I said, there is no real plot other than showing, through example, the amount of roughness during sex a were animal,(I forget if he was a werewolf, wereleopard, or weretiger) NEEDED during sex.  There is bondage,FFF, FF, MFFF,MFMF,  and a lot of other stuff included. It is NOT for the faint of heart.

I’m going  to start looking for the early books in the series so I can re-acquaint myself with how Anita Blake came to be all she is in Jason.

 For anyone wanting to start this series I would definitely start at the beginning and not in the middle like I did.

 

 

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam, and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores the domestic life: baking, gardening, caring for her infant son. Sam, formerly an academic, is pursuing a new career as a filmmaker. Sometimes they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frank visits their Swedish paradise, she immediately becomes part of the family. She bonds with Conor. And with Sam. She befriends the neighbors, and even finds herself embracing the domesticity she’s always seemed to scorn.

All their lives, Frank and Merry have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank soon sees the things others might miss. Treacherous things, which are almost impossible to believe when looking at this perfect family. But Frank, of all people, knows that the truth is rarely what you want the world to see.

Review –

From what I understand, readers either hate this book or love it because of the subject matter, but when I read some of the reviews it only made me want to read it more to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Yes, the subject matter is disturbing and the storyline is shocking but I must say, I have read other books that were just as subject sensitive but didn’t get all the love/hate reaction. I think, because one of the characters was a helpless infant is one of the reasons some people steer clear of this book and that’s okay. For me, I don’t let taboo or sensitive suspects deter me from reading a book. Unless the book may have triggers for you – step outside your comfort zone and read something daring.

I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

Dollars (Dollar #2) by Pepper Winters

Book Description:

Published: November 18, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

“I should never have asked for a night with you. This would never have happened if I’d had more willpower.”

A thief met a possession and did what he did best. Now, he has to live with the consequences. Including the girl he claimed.

Pimlico was stolen and sold all before her twenty-first birthday. Two years with a master who almost killed her is over. She has a new master now. A master who demands everything, expects everything, and requires ultimate access to her mind.

Elder broke countless rules when he took the girl who wasn’t his. She confuses and bewitches him, but his fascination won’t save her from his desires.

He wants to know her. She wants to forget. Together…they’re doomed.

Pimlico: Once upon a time, I was a mute captive who wished for death.
Now, I’m stowed away on a yacht.
Saved and taken, the thief who stole me demands my voice, my past, my everything.
I won’t give in.
But Elder refuses to take no for an answer.
He pushes and cajoles, slowly discovering who I am. Until I find out he plays the cello to escape his demons, all while his music conjures mine.
He’s rich, I’m bankrupt.
I’m mute by choice, he’s curious by nature.
So many reasons why we can never work.
But that doesn’t stop our connection, our passion.
Until one night, he ruins everything.

Review –

I loved the little tidbits of Elder’s past that were revealed in this installment of the series, Dollar. He remains in large part a mystery, but slowly pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. I look forward to knowing what brought him to where he is at today. He’s not all bad, but not good either, and the struggle between both is a constant internal war within him.

As for Pim, her strength through adversity is compelling. I can’t wait for the connection between her and Elder to be explored more fully. The way he has of reading her is so intriguing. But even as she escapes one prison, she is still a victim of her conditioning. Will she ever be able to act and be viewed as a normal young woman? only time will tell. Just when I think she may be giving in a little something happens to draw her back into herself.

Prepare yourself for another jaw-dropping ending. I want nothing more than for Pim to be whole again, and for these two to find their HEA together. Unfortunately, they both will have to face down their past before that can happen. I look forward to the next three books, and seeing where this roller coaster ride ends up.

Be warned that there are many triggers in this book.

 

The Dark Light of Day (The Dark Light of Day #1) by T.M. Frazier

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Homeless, sleeping in a junkyard, and on the run from a system that has failed her over and over again, Abby meets Jake, a tattooed blue-eyed biker with secrets that rival her own. Two broken souls that can’t be healed, they can’t be saved. Abby and Jake have to decide if they can accept the darkness not only within one another, but within themselves.

If they can accept each other for who they really are they might learn that love isn’t always found in the light…

WARNING: This is NOT your typical romance.
The story of Jake & Abby contains disturbing situations, graphic violence, sex, strong language, drug use, and all types of abuse.

Review –

I have read books with damaged, broken souls but they DO NOT compare to the utter desolation and suffering in the lives of Jake and Abby.

Abby’s parents were drug addicts and worse. When Abby was nine years old her mother didn’t have any money to pay for her drugs so she gave the man Abby in payment. When he tried to rape her she stabbed him in the eye with a piece of mirror that her mother used to snort cocaine. For punishment Abby’s mother tied her to a hot radiator and burned her with cigarettes and cut her all over her body with a knife. Abby did escape and run naked and bleeding to a fire station where she found help. Her mother was tried and sentenced to life in prison.

At seventeen Abby’s loses her grandmother and is homeless and hiding in a junkyard from Child Protective Services.

The last time twenty-two year old Jake Dunn saw his father he tried to kill him. He has always blamed Jake for the death of his wife and “good ” son. Now he’s a drunk and Jake has come back to look after the family business. He finds Abby in an old truck and almost shoots her, but falls in love with her at first sight instead. Jake know’s he’s no good for her and is too old for her and that he  kills people for a living, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is Abby.

Abby and Jake find each other and are able to open up for the first time in their young lives.

Just as they are getting somewhere in their relationship, Jake has to leave town for a while for a job. If poor Abby hasn’t been through enough already, she goes through something even more traumatic while Jake is gone. It’s devastating. It’s disturbing. It will break your heart.

I won’t tell you what happens just know that it’s a dark storyline, with  broken characters, a damaged man, tough not annoying heroine, heartbreaking and sad, but heart warming at times… and most importantly, gave me a case of the feels.

This one will bring out some strong emotions in you. The Dark Light of Day is about so much more than finding love and healing. It’s about a girl, a girl who endured more than suffering and trauma than any person should ever go through, finding the strength to move on. That it’s okay to be touched, to fall in love, to find happiness and let people in. Jake and Abby were able to find beauty in all the ugly. 

A fantastic read and the cover, for the most part, matches the story.

Five stars.

 

 

 

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Book Description:

Published: September 15, 2017

Format: E-Book

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review –
PitchDark is a very dark and gritty thriller, one that was difficult to read at times.  It’s intense, heartbreaking, edgy, and raw.  So be aware, it’s very explicit with the details of  child abuse.
It’s been fifteen years since Niko’s childhood friend, Aislin, has disappeared and in his heart he knew she was abducted while his parents and the police just thought she ran off.
A body is found in the woods covered with scars, old and new, and open sores, cuts, scrapes, and old and new bruises. She is identified as Aislin. Niko is heart-broken and angry because he hadn’t rescued her from such torture.
Later a girl is found walking the streets, barefoot and with similar markings on her body as the dead girl and she has no memory of who she is or her previous life.
While Niko helps to find out who this girl is and who did this to her (because he’s positive the same individual killed Aislin)he begins to get close to her and develops feelings he knows he shouldn’t.
I’m not going much further with the story because it would be too easy to include spoilers. Just surface it to say that it’s well written with engaging characters. Sometimes it seems draw out and repetitive but even that didn’t take away from the storyline although because of that I only gave it four and a half stars.
Excellent who-dun-it but there are many triggers and it’s not a romance so if you are easily disgusted and traumatized; stay away from this book!

Bait by Jade West

Book Description:

Published: August 14, 2017

Format: Free Digital Book

A stranger online. Dark hair and even darker eyes that knew my dirty desires before I did.
A fantasy that should never be spoken. But he pulled the confession from me.
And now he’s coming for me.
Rough. Dirty. Dangerous.
It’s supposed to be one night to get me off and make me forget.
He’ll make me his and I’ll pretend I don’t want him to.
I’ll run and he’ll chase.
Because I asked him for this.
I begged him for this.

Tonight, in the darkness, he’s the hunter.
And I’m the bait.

Review –

Abigail Summers moved to a new city to leave behind her old life. But no matter where she went, demons from her past caught up to her, making her crave a dangerous game.Abigail was one gutsy woman. She perfectly aware what she jumped into and took matter into her own hand to regain her spirit. I like how she could let herself loose while not losing control.

Phoenix may be a stranger, but he was no stranger to the dark needs. He let the monster lay dormant inside him until she breathed it back to life. On the surface, Phoenix had that wild and dangerous appeal. And I like how beyond that he was perfectly normal. He may be ruthless, but he also had heart.

What I like the most about these characters is that they’re unapologetic for what they need and they clicked together like a jigsaw puzzle. The sex scenes were dirty and the situation added to the hotness.

The book started dark and mysterious with a tinge of ominous tone. I enjoyed the overall storyline even though I wasn’t surprised by outcome.

Bait is a story of two broken souls finding comfort with each other. It would appeal to readers looking for dark, erotic read with element of suspense.

Forbidden (Songs of Perdition 1-3) by CD Reiss

Book Description:

Published:December 1, 2015

Format: Audio

Everything about Fiona is forbidden.

She’s a party girl with dark desires.
She’s beautiful, irresponsible, irresistible.

She’s my patient.
I’m her therapist.

I’m past wanting her. Past possessing her. Past bedding her or protecting her.

I’m willing to be self-destructive, negligent, brave, audacious, and stronger than I ever believed possible.

She’s blunt force trauma to the heart.
And she calls another man Master.

Review –

Painful, beautifully erotic and breathtaking. It goes without saying that C.D. Reiss leaves me without words every single time and Forbidden sucked the life out of me. I have many things to say and i feel like words are not enough to describe this book.

It goes beyond the art of BDSM, is far more. The love and excitement of being a master and the peacefulness of being submitted. Forbidden was simply so much more. Fiona was beyond broken, a drug addict, a sex addict and a heavy drinker. Men wanted to save her, to soothe her pain, to love her.

The men in Fiona’s life are complete opposites. Deacon, Fiona’s longtime Dom/boyfriend, is dark and brooding. He is not a man to be crossed. He is handsome, confident, and ruthless. He loves Fiona deeply and sees it as his responsibility to keep her on track and out of trouble. He’s the sort of man that readers should want Fiona to be done with, but I found his strength and his dedication to Fiona quite appealing.

Elliot Chapman gave up his planned career in the seminary to become a therapist. His compassion for people, his sexual fantasies, and Fiona’s wantonness push him into an untenable and unethical situation. He wants to help her get better. He wants her to see her self-worth and make positive changes in her life. He wants to participate in the sexual kink that Fiona describes in their sessions. Elliot first appears as Fiona’s guardian angel, but I felt like his fantasies about his patient to be just as selfish as Deacon’s method for helping Fiona.

Forbidden was consuming from the beginning to the end. A hard book to put in words, so i just recommend you to read and just feel.

Forbidden can be a tough read. The mature, dark content will not appeal to some, but if you read this story more as a woman’s journey away from a self-destructive life, you’ll appreciate the glorious, rich details and character development of CD Reiss’ intricate storytelling.

There are be triggers for some readers.