Avid reader/reviewer and editor. I don't pull punches when I review, love it or hate it, you get what I think.
While I wouldn't necessarily classify this one as a thriller, it certainly grabbed hold and held me in its clutches. I'll admit that I was a bit confused about the shape of the story when I started, but the more I read, the more I wanted to read. We've all heard the stories about a person serving years on death row or even being executed when new evidence is found to refute their guilt. Confessions of an Innocent Man takes that a step further - okay, maybe a mile further with a revenge plot that is nothing short of meticulous in its detail. But first, we get Rafael's story, what brought him to death row and the revenge he so desperately needed. Now, here's where my earlier mentioned confusion came in. Rafael is an interesting character, but I kept wondering where it was all going. Nevertheless, even if I had never gotten to what I thought was coming from reading the blurb, I still enjoyed Rafael's story, his early days with the love of his life, his anguish over losing her, his bitter fury when he's found guilty, and finally, his coming to grips with his circumstances as he tries to figure out the world of death row for an inmate. In the end, I felt like the point to this story, the place it was all leading up to, was the man Rafael became after his release and how he decided to exact his revenge. Of course, the recipients of that revenge also make for some intriguing food for thought. The writing is compelling and the pacing is steady for most of the book. The story does lag somewhat in the second half, which is the only real criticism from me. So, while I didn't find the thriller I was looking for, I did find suspense and a gripping story. An excellent debut from David R Dow, and one that has put him on my radar.
I did something with this book that I rarely do. I finished it and then sat with it, trying to decide how I felt about the story. First of all, I will say that I didn't find the riveting thriller that's promised in the blurb, although it does eventually get thriller-like toward the end. The story jumps back and forth between Laura and Rosie, one happening in the present and one happening the night before. Then, we get snippets of therapy sessions thrown in here and there. The jumps are frequent and at times served to pull me out of the story rather than the opposite. For a large chunk of this one, we're left to wonder whether Laura is out with a psycho or if she's the one who's unhinged, which is a decent enough plot device except Laura's waffling about her date grew tedious much too soon in the story. The writing is a little too dry for the amount of tension this type of book should have, and the big reveal didn't produce the shock I think the author was going for. Once you figure out the who, which is pretty easy, the why kind of falls into place. I did finish the book, and I suppose my feelings about it are somewhere in the mid range. I didn't hate it, but it's also not one that I'll think about down the road.
This second book featuring DCS Frankie Sheehan has a solid mystery and reads very much like an episode of CSI with the details about the crime scenes. In fact, the story includes plenty of detail about almost everything except our characters. On that front, I was hoping for something more. As it stands, the characters, including Frankie, lack enough personality to really get a feel for them, much less relate to them. As with any group of people who work closely together, I would expect some personal conversation, maybe some banter between friends, but there is a distinct lack of that here that gives the story a very straightforward and dispassionate atmosphere. On a positive note, the suspense is good with a murder mystery that isn't too easy to figure out. So, while I did like the murder mystery, the impersonal feel left me with a lack of connection to any of the characters, including Frankie.
I've been waiting for Grant and Aubrey's story since the beginning of the series, and not so patiently waiting for their secrets about what lay behind the divorce. Boy, did they ever deliver! I felt like this pair had my heart in their hands and would alternately squeeze and stroke depending on where I was in their story. Dramatic much? Definitely, when it comes to these two, but it's hard not to be as they make their journey toward that second chance. I'm a sucker for second chance love stories anyway, so this one had me from the get-go. Add in Grant's Southern boy charm and I was a goner. I won't say that this one is more emotional than the others in the series, but it's a different type of emotion, and if you've ever been through what Grant and Aubrey have, you'll understand what I mean. With that said, I spent a good deal of this book wanting to hug Grant while itching to shake Aubrey til her teeth rattled. Not that she was solely at fault, but I so wanted her to see what was right in front of her, or better yet, to say so. In the end, both were to blame for the break-up and both had to come to grips with that to get the relationship back. In essence, some meeting in the middle was required, and when these two met, the chemistry would knock your socks off. In addition to the emotional storm of Then Came You, we also get loads of Kate Meader's wit and humor to temper the angst, plus a cranky feline who causes his own bit of trouble along the way. I've loved each couple in this terrific series, but Grant and Aubrey are my faves by far, and just one more reason this author is a must read for me.
The Scent of Murder is well-written and despite the nature of the story, an easy read. I prefer something with more grit, so the story is a little bit too cozy mystery for my tastes, but the fast pace and whodunit did hold my interest. This one reminded me of Murder She Wrote with Jazz and her determination to solve the murder regardless of any warnings from police or any danger to herself. There is an almost romance between Jazz and her ex - a bit of push and pull between them and some flirting on his part, but I didn't really see them as a couple until the end. Nick's feelings come across clearly, but Jazz is closed off and comes across as more confused about a relationship than anything else. In the end, I did enjoy the mystery, and we're introduced to some interesting and quirky characters in Jazz's world, especially Sarah and Eileen. The story is certainly worth the read, and I'll be interested to see where things go for these characters.
When words like gripping and won't be able to put it down are used next to the title, it tends to inspire a certain expectation of what's inside the book. Don't get me wrong, Perfect Crime is a good enough crime thriller, but gripping? Not so much. There are two cases running side by side, and both are way too easy to figure out from pretty early in the story. That said, the book does run the usual formula for the genre, and there are plenty of tense situations to keep things moving along at a good pace. There's also some romance between our two main characters, and honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about how that part played out. Nevertheless, the story is well-written, and it did hold my interest even after I had it figured out.
Getting Hot with the Scot is a fun and flirty romantic comedy with lots of laughs and some steamy goodness along the way. Despite that, I had a really hard time getting into this one, and I'm really not sure why. The characters are likable enough if a bit immature at times, and I did like Logan's prankster side. I kept at it, and the story did start to grow on me until I finally was able to get fully behind this couple. They certainly have a solid attraction between them, and eventually, it does grow into something more. That said, their road to a happy ever after isn't all sunshine and roses - they do have to work for it a little to get there. In the end, the story did grow on me and I wound up enjoying it once I got into it. It is worth the read, and I'll be interested to see where the series goes.
Off the Ice pretty lighthearted for an in the closet romance. There is some angst, but it's overcome much more quickly than I would've expected, and the story focuses on the romance between Tristan and Sebastian as they get to know each other and find their footing in the relationship. Seb comes off as a bit snobbish and a lot judgmental in the beginning, but as things progress, that all plays a part in the story. So, while I wasn't crazy about him at first, he did grow on me, and I ended up liking both characters. They're also really good together with each bringing out better qualities in the other. That said, the story was still just a middle of the road read for me. The romance works, but in terms of tropes, there is really nothing here to set this one apart from a sea of others like it. All in all, Off the Ice is an easy, laid back story that makes for a pleasant feel-good read.
Let me start by saying that I would not consider The Stillwater Girls to be a thriller. The pacing is a bit on the slow side and while it did have thriller potential during the chapters about the girls, the parallel chapters from Nicolette's point of view barely held my interest. The storylines do come together eventually, but up to that point, I was sorely tempted to skim Nicolette's chapters. There are a few hints about where those chapters might be heading, but you have to be prepared to head into dark territory. That said, Wren's chapters did keep me reading, and once the man shows up, the story started to lean in the direction of a thriller for me. Then, it fell apart again with the big twist. In fact, I can pinpoint the exact sentence where it all went wrong and I started rolling my eyes - it's roughly 61% into chapter 40. There was no turning back from that point because the whole idea was so completely over the top. I'm trying to be deliberately vague here so I don't give spoilers, so let me just say that the idea of how things happened is far-fetched, but not completely beyond the realm of possibility. However, the idea that so many people knew without saying a word, including casual people about town, is where this one completely lost me. I find it impossible to believe that this town, small or not, did not have a single gossip who would've been all too happy to share that kind of information. I realize that this is fiction, and some leeway can be given, but this one pushed way past that for me.
The Mother-in-Law didn't quite live up to its potential for me. It's more women's fiction than mystery, although there is a mystery involved. However, by the time I made it to the big reveal, my question wasn't who killed Diana, but who didn't want to. The book comes across as preachy, and I quickly grew irritated at the number of times Diana mentions or thinks about what could feed a third-world nation. Charity is a wonderful thing, but I kept thinking maybe Diana should've looked in the mirror before passing judgment about how someone else might spend their own money. And she really needed a lesson about charity beginning at home. That aside, what most of the story boils down to is two women who get off on the wrong foot and can't seem to find their way back with tidbits of who killed Diana thrown in here and there. Maybe my disappointment stems from expecting one thing and finding another, so take my opinion for what it's worth, but this one was clearly not for me.
I really, really wanted to like this book. The blurb hints at a dark, thrilling read, and the beginning has some promise. Unfortunately, that promise wasn't fulfilled, at least not for me. We have the unreliable narrator, and Juliette is certainly unstable, but it's way too easy to figure out the why of it all from the flashbacks we're given. We're practically spoon-fed this one, so any twists in the story really aren't surprising. I will say that the scenery of the many locations visited is good, and the details work for giving the reader a picture of so many far away places. What didn't work for me was the sheer amount of detail given about everything else. And I do mean everything. The more I read, the more tempted I was to just skip to end to see how it played out. That's a big no-no for me, but now, I really wish I had done exactly that. Then we have the whole stalking thing, and yes, Juliette is clearly troubled, but her plans and actions for most of the book are just pathetic and weak instead of the dark and dangerous woman I was hoping for. We do get a bit more grit toward the end, but by then, I was just over it and it was too little, too late. Finally, we come to the non-ending of this one. I can get behind a good jaw dropper, and I don't have to always have a justice is done, happy ending, but this one isn't that. It literally just stops - like I was wondering if there were missing pages - which turned my disappointment into a feeling of just being cheated. Maybe, I fell for the hype and expected too much from this book, or maybe it's just not for me, but I can't say that this is one I'll be recommending.
Dark, twisted folklore or postpartum depression? Little Darlings left me with mixed feelings. I'm sure part of that can be blamed on the fact that I went into the book expecting a thriller and got what felt more like a domestic drama. The idea of changelings definitely adds a sinister tone to the story, but in the end, I was still unconvinced as to which way this one wanted to go. Maybe that's the point, and each reader will decide for themselves. All I know for sure is that I expected something more than what I found in this one. According to the hype, Little Darlings is coming to the big screen, so I'll be interested to see how I feel about that format. I don't say this often, but this is one that may be better on the silver screen, at least as far as the thriller aspect goes. Looking at it from the postpartum depression angle, which is the direction I found myself leaning toward, it does make for an interesting drama. So, drama, yes. thriller, not so much, hence my mixed feelings. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.
The Road Leads Back is a second chance, secret baby romance that took twenty-eight years to happen. In fact, that's one of my favorite things about this book - these characters are approaching fifty when they get their second chance at love, and contrary to what many think, they're not much better at traversing that path than anyone else. This story is emotional on so many levels with so much past hurt between Kara and Harry and their families, some of which only comes to light in the present. For a lot of the book, this pair seems to take two steps back for every one step forward, which made it an exercise in frustration at times, but life is so often that way, and frustrated or not, I was completely wrapped up in this family. In the end, the romance is sweet and eventually hopeful, but it's more than just another romance. This is a story about how deeply past hurts can run, especially when they're at the hands of those we trust the most, and the long, winding road back to finally letting go and moving on.
I Want You Back took me by surprise with its different take on the typical second chance romance. Unlike so many that rely on misunderstandings, one-sided attractions, or a romance that almost was, this couple had their chance at love and one of them thoroughly blew it. So, yes, cheating was definitely a factor in the breakup, but for those who cheating is a hard limit in their fiction, it's mentioned, but the actual act is not on page. We do, however, get a lot of Jax and Lucy's early years through memories scattered throughout the story. I really liked that we got to see the early attraction for this couple without the story getting bogged down by that part of it. That left plenty of room for their current day relationship as two people co-parenting their child while still dealing with the emotional baggage between them, and it is considerable. I was disappointed when we're finally given the catalyst for Jax's lifestyle change. It just felt unnecessary, and once revealed, I felt like Lucy and Mimi were the consolation prizes for him. Whatever his reason, he does have his redeeming qualities. and I ended the book liking him much more than I thought I would. That aside, I was impressed with the author's ability to give us such an emotional story while still keeping the angst low. There is angst, but it's more subtle rather than big dramatic issues, and the high emotions are tempered with well-timed humor. All in all, this is a solid start to the series, and I'll be interested to see which of these engaging characters finds love next.
This curvy girl romance has some truly funny moments, but while I usually love sassy, take no nonsense female characters, Avery is just not likable. Strong is one thing, and I appreciate that she could and did stand up for herself, but Avery goes past that and straight to insulting and rude more often than not. I think most of what she said was supposed to be funny, but this one could've done with a bit of the less is more school of thought. I did like Declan, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he kept going back for more with Avery. He had plenty of demons to deal with, and it just felt like her attitude was one he could get away from. When you spend that much time just wanting him to walk away it doesn't bode well for any kind of hopes about the romance. On a positive note, you can't read this one without the feeling that the author loves New Orleans. The descriptions of the city are vivid and paint a picture that is easy to visualize. That said, the setting turned out to be the best part of this one for me. As this is a debut, and my biggest issue lay with my feelings about Avery, I will check out future works from this author. She does show talent, and I'll be interested to see how her writing develops with future books.