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!

 

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!

 

Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

Review –

This book was an emotional roller coaster ride! This book was heart wrenchingly good. It hit me right in the heart and I was left emotionally drained. It took a while to really get into the story line  because it felt like a typical YA romance but damn the second half totally changed my mind. Ryan’s bed was completely different from Tijan’s other books.  It not only deals with loss, grief, acceptance, and healing but it also deals with  sensitive issues like suicide and depression.

The writing was beautiful and I loved the characters. My heart ached for both Ryan and Mackenzie and the loss they’d both experienced. On the surface they might’ve seemed like an odd pairing, but it just worked. They understood each other and what they were going through and I loved the bond that formed as a result of that. It gave me all kinds of feels. There was a certain amount of escapism, too, as Mackenzie used Ryan to dull her pain, but something beautiful grew as a result of it. It was really interesting to watch Mackenzie develop throughout this book as she dealt with the loss of her sister. She gutted me at times – her pain was so visceral, so real.

Ryan was a pretty special character, too. He was popular and had a certain amount of power, but he was sweet and thoughtful and absolutely all in for Mackenzie. That’s the kind of hero I can get behind so easily. He was absolutely crush-worthy. I wouldn’t call him perfect, because who is really, but he was darn close. He protected and cared for Mackenzie in a way she needed, a way he understood because he’d lost someone close to him, too.

You should give this book a try and if you do decide to read it or listen to it ,expect angst and pain and more than a few heartaches, but know you’ll also find something beautiful amongst all that heavier stuff. At the risk of saying too much, you should also expect a jaw-dropping ending. I DID NOT see that coming. Just to be clear, it’s not a cliffhanger and this is a standalone book, but W O W. It was kinda perfect, but I still couldn’t help but trying to flip further to find more story. I’ll be adding this one to my “must reread at some point” list so I can get the full experience again, knowing the ending.

Five stars!

The Wicked King (The Cruel Prince #2) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review –

Holy Crap,  High King Cardan, could you be more of an a$$hole?

One minute you think he might be a good guy and then he does the unthinkable and after marrying Jude and taking her to bed! (eye roll, head shake)

My first reaction on finishing was basically just: WHY DON’T YOU JUST PICK UP MY LIMP CARCASS AND TOSS IT 50 FEET  INTO THE SEA TOO. The story is excellent in the most beautiful, clever, and perfectly poisonous way. I am reeling and also want to s c r e a m myself into the next dimension because I seriously need book three, which won’t be out until November of this year.

A mortal raised in the realms of Faerie by the devious General Madoc, Jude Duarte has learned to play games of politics and intrigue quite well. By manipulating her onetime nemesis, Cardan (the titular Cruel Prince of the previous book, and Wicked King of this one), onto the throne and binding his will to hers for a year and a day, Jude has bought time for her young foster brother, Oak, whom Madoc would have thrust into power and controlled from the shadows. Using all of her resources — her spy net work, her inability to be glamoured, and her innate physical and intellectual talents — Jude manages to keep Cardan’s numerous rivals in check. The growing trust between Jude and Cardan blossoms into an unlikely romance and ultimately a clandestine marriage — but one final betrayal threatens to undo all of Jude’s plans. The plot itself twists, turns, and dovetails perfectly with the assured character development; in this way, Black proves herself a master storyteller. This book was dark, provocative, full of royal intrigue, and power plays galore

I can’t wait until November for The Queen of Nothing!

Five stars!!!!!!!

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.

 

 

The Bone Farm (Jane Hawk #0.5) by Dean Koontz

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

An audio original novella featuring bestselling author Dean Koontz’s compelling new heroine, Jane Hawk. From the case files of the former FBI agent before she became the nation’s most wanted fugitive – The Bone Farm details a desperate man-hunt for a serial killer before he murders again.

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them.

Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

Review –

I have not read any of the Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz (one of my favorite authors), so this novella was the perfect choice to get to know the female protagonist.

This is a prequel to the Jane Hawk series. One does not need to read any of the Jane Hawk novels to understand the events in this short story. In this one, Jane and her partner are investigating a serial killer case where the killer is named the “Mother Hater”.

We get Jane in the present and we also get the past and see how the serial killer comes to be. I have always liked this kind of storytelling as it seems like it is two different stories. Plot held my interest even though it was a the predictable side and it is a quick listen.

The Bone Farm was a suspenseful and intriguing story filled with twists and turns and the narrator was quite good. Plot held my interest even though it was a the predictable side.

Sexy Stranger by Kendall Ryan

Book Description:

Published: May 23, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Luke Wilder knows the lovely stranger doesn’t belong the second she struts into his sleepy little town. She’s a city girl who won’t stay longer than it takes to get her fancy foreign car repaired–which is why he should ignore his powerful need to make her notice him. It’s just that the moment she opens her smart mouth and gives it back as good as she gets, he wants to swap a whole lot more with her than insults.

Charlotte Freemont instantly dislikes the rude, redneck stranger she finds herself stuck with. Too bad he’s as hot, and as tempting, as sin. On the run from her messy past, she’s not there to get tangled up with a man, even one as hard to resist as the hot-headed Luke. But when he gives her a private tour of his craft whiskey distillery, their attraction ignites and Luke seizes the chance to show her there’s a whole lot more to him than rough and rugged.

When he finally learns her secret, will it shatter his trust in her? Or do they have a chance to create a whole new blend?

A sizzling, enemies-to-lovers romp with bite.

Review –

Loved this book, which I put in the category of “soft smut” because the sex in the plot line was appropriate and not overly done and “in your face”. 

The story itself is not new, hot girl running away from her problems, ends up with her car broken down somewhere in the southwest(this time in Texas). She meets a hot, hunky, rugged man and they clash, until they don’t and they live happily ever after.

Loved it and love Kendall Ryan.

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct…

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

“A search for a missing girl resurrects traumatic memories for a woman already struggling with life.

Sunday Night—not her real name—lives in seclusion on an island off the South Carolina coast while contemplating the ruins of her life. Her early childhood was a nightmare. Taken in by policeman Perry “Beau” Beaumonde, rebellious Sunday earned a choice of jail or the armed forces. Her stint in the Marines led to a job with the Charleston PD, where the accidental shooting of an unarmed man has left her wounded and pensioned off. That’s when Beau suggests she take an investigative job for wealthy, well-connected Opaline Drucker, whose 15-year-old granddaughter, Stella, may have been kidnapped by a cult after she missed being killed in a Hebrew school bombing that claimed the lives of her mother and brother (though the family isn’t Jewish). Accepting the job, Sunday heads to Chicago, where Drucker’s connections get her first-class treatment and information from the cops handling the case. Paranoid Sunday sets up motion detectors in her room at the Ritz and moves from hotel to hotel while awaiting the results of her internet trolling. She hears from the bombers and manages to avoid one trap but gets ambushed at the Ritz, where she kills an attacker identified as one of the bombing suspects from an old security tape. Seeking help in staking out a female member of the gang, Sunday calls on her twin brother, Gus, and they chase the suspects from Chicago to California and back East. Reichs periodically interrupts this tale with the first-person narrative of a girl desperately trying to escape a cult. Is it Stella or Sunday? Are the bombers really trying to kill Jewish schoolchildren, or is their motive still deeper?

The authors’ newest heroine, the polar opposite of cerebral Temperance Brennan (Speaking in Bones, 2015, etc.), is fueled by a well-nigh uncontrollable rage in her thrilling, violent search for a missing girl so much like herself.”

The above was taken from Kirkus Review.

Although I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure if the character of Sunday Night will grow on me; but I really liked her twin brother Gus (August Night) and he, I could become invested in. I guess I’ll just wait and see what the author decides to do.

 

Boar Island (Anna Pigeon #19) by Nevada Barr

Book Description:

Published: May 17, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Anna Pigeon, in her career as a National Park Service Ranger, has had to deal with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors, but cyber-bullying and stalking is a new one. The target is Elizabeth, the adopted teenage daughter of her friend Heath Jarrod. Elizabeth is driven to despair by the disgusting rumors spreading online and bullying texts. Until, one day, Heath finds her daughter Elizabeth in the midst of an unsuccessful suicide attempt. And then she calls in the cavalry—her aunt Gwen and her friend Anna Pigeon.

While they try to deal with the fragile state of affairs—and find the person behind the harassment—the three adults decide the best thing to do is to remove Elizabeth from the situation. Since Anna is about to start her new post as Acting Chief Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, the three will join her and stay at a house on the cliff of a small island near the park, Boar Island.

But the move east doesn’t solve the problem. The stalker has followed them east. And Heath (a paraplegic) and Elizabeth aren’t alone on the otherwise deserted island. At the same time, Anna has barely arrived at Acadia before a brutal murder is committed by a killer uncomfortably close to her.

BOAR ISLAND is a brilliant intertwining of past and present, of victims and killers, in a compelling novel that only Nevada Barr could write.

Review –

Boar Island is not one of my favorite books in the Anna Pigeon series, and here’s why. There are two storylines going on at the same time but to say they were related would be a stretch. The murder of a lobsterman and the cyberbullying of a teenaged girl, is interesting, but I felt more depth was needed. Also,how does the national park plays a role? This book could have been set anywhere because  there is nothing here that ties it to Acadia directly, and with a series that has in the past made the park an important element of the story, this is a serious flaw.

I did like the fact that Anna Pigeon played a background cast member rather than the series lead, because in real  life you can only be the center of attention so may times before you start to get on people’s nerves.  She does manage to get serious danger twice which added a much-needed dose of drama to an otherwise bland book.

I hope the next book is more suspenseful.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2011

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Review –

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This is a fantastic read/listen ( I had the audio version ) and although it is slow and repetitive in places it grabs your heart-strings and doesn’t let go.

It’s a book to be equally enjoyed by young adults as well as their parents because the issues are presented from both perspectives. The main characters are twins, Mia and Zack  and Jude, their adept but hovering mother and Lexi, a lonely teen living with her aunt.

Mothers will  relate to her parenting skills and worrying. Young adults and teens will relate to the push and pull of finding independence from one’s parents and the necessity of being accepted by peers. It’s layered with issues on family dynamics, teenage angst and romance, first loves, sibling rivalry, friendship, forgiveness, grief and motherhood making it an excellent read.

I felt so sorry for Lexi who just can’t catch a break and so angry at Zack for putting Lexi in a position that  endangered all three of them and ended Mia’s life.

The ending is a bit too much HALLMARK, but I’m glad everything worked out for everyone.

All in all a great book.

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