Book Reviews

Book Review: Just Last Night, by Mhairi McFarlane

Just Last Night,

by Mhairi McFarlane

Publication: William Morrow and Custom House; May 4, 2021

About:

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

**My Review**

Oh my goodness I am so excited to bring you my review of Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane! This is hands down one of my top 5 books of 2021! Besides the blurb, I had no idea where this story was going, but it ended up being the most amazing story of friendship and love found in the most unlikely of places. There is a foursome of best friends – Ed, Justin, Eve, and Susie – all of which have been friends for about 18 years. Eve and Ed briefly expressed undying love for one another but as a whole, they are just friends. After a quiz night at the local pup, tragedy strikes this group. A person who initially seems an enemy worms their way into Eve’s heart. Secrets are revealed, feelings are hurt, and relationships are broken. However, in the end, one thing truly remains and that is neverending friendship.

This book tackles so many things: death, grief, love, secrets, wrong first impressions, and so on. Without saying too much, I will say that after an epic night of pub trivia and drinking, one of the friends is suddenly killed and kudos to the author, it was not who I thought. Anyway, what happens next is a lot of grieving, unanswered questions, and discoveries that the person should have made on their own while still alive. 

Let me get my criticism out of the way first… I struggled getting into this book. When my Kindle said 23%, I was still deciding whether or not to stick with it or mark this one off as a DNF. Do not give up! I would have missed out on such an amazing love story (both friendly and romantic) if I had given up! The author does a lot of characterization and back story at the beginning which feels tedious at times, but it was all worth it. There are numerous subplots that keep the story interesting and although I normally hate them, I enjoyed the somewhat ambiguous ending about Eve’s love life at the end. You are left hoping for the best but not quite certain what her future holds. 

This book is easy to connect with in that, imagine your 3 best friends and suddenly one is taken away way too early in life. Everything is in upheaval and no one knows the right way to feel and behave. I easily pictured my most loved inner circle and found myself wondering several times if I would have felt the same way or done the same things. This book calls on your every emotion and though very bleak at times, leaves you feeling optimistic. This is a new to me author but one I will happily bing her every book going forward. 

Book Reviews, Release Blitz

Release Blitz and Review: Back to Us, by TC Matson

RELEASE BLITZ
Title: Back to Us
Series: Cameron Falls #2
Author: TC Matson
Genre: Small Town Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2021
BLURB

Blake
In high school, Dakota Jayne was my everything.
My life. My soul. The air I breathed. She was my light.
One day we were planning the rest of our life.
The next I was picking up the shattered pieces of my broken heart.
She abandoned me without looking back.
Had she glanced in the rearview, she would’ve seen me chasing after her through the dust cloud she stirred up when she hightailed it out of town.
Now, eleven years later, she’s back and creating havoc between my heart and mind.
I hate her. She’s still beautiful.
She left me. I still love her.
I wish she’d go back to wherever the hell she came from so I can get on with my life.

Dakota
Blake Helms was my life.
We had everything planned out.
That’s until he devastated me and broke my heart.
So, I packed up all the pieces and left for college, leaving everything I had ever known behind me.
I finished college, settled into my career, and tried to forget him.
Then my grandmother passed away, bringing me back to this god-forsaken town.
I despise this place and all of the memories.
I hate himHe’s still gorgeous.
He broke me. I don’t want to still love him.
Leaving the first time was hard but leaving the second time might just kill me.

**My Review** 

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for TC Matson’s, Back to Us! After falling in love with Cameron Falls in Back to Me, I was beyond excited to get Blake’s story in Back to Us. Blake is hard-working, fun-loving, and still heartbroken over his high school love, Dakota. He’s had eleven years of hate and love for Dakota since she left him, but now she’s back for her Granny’s funeral. Dakota has been avoiding coming home since Blake broke her heart, but now she’s back temporarily to visit with her family and help take care of things from her Granny passing.  They initially plan to avoid one another while she’s there but fate and possibly some plotting by their families keeps bringing them together.

This is such a wonderful second-chance romance but so frustrating at the same time! Blake and Dakota had their future planned out and he had even bought her an engagement ring when she announces she’s attending college 17 hours away, they get into an enormous fight, and then she misconstrues a situation causing her to take off without a word. So basically the entire premise of the book could have been avoiding if she had not jumped to conclusions! But, moving on from that…

I adored Blake in Back To Me but truly fell head over heels for him in this story. He’s already sexy and completely swoon-worthy. Combine that with his adorable relationship with his niece and how loving and committed he is to his family and friends, it’s impossible not to love him and want a real-life version of him. With Dakota, it took me a little while to warm up to her because I couldn’t help but blame her for all of the heartache and resentment that they have carried for so long. I know, I should side with the girl, lol, but the whole situation bugged me. Anyway, the longer she was home and the more she found herself again, the more I came to really like her.

Back to Us is a romantic, sexy, sweet, and funny second-chance romance. I experienced every emotion under the sun while reading it and it was a complete page-turner for me. After a few ups and downs, there is a very HEA so plan to finish the book feeling full of happiness and love! Although this is the second Cameron Falls novel, this can be read as a stand-alone. However, I do suggest reading Back to Me first because you’ll understand who is who much better.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57288599-back-to-us

PURCHASE LINKS

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#1 Back to Me

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AUTHOR BIO

TC Matson loves to let her character’s voices be heard. With a head full of stories, she puts her keyboard through a beating daily. Matson sets her sights on writing stores relatable and real. And having an understanding that love isn’t always instant and full of flowers—her writing mirrors it. She isn’t afraid to push the envelope and touch bases of uncomfortable situation.
She’s a romance junkie at heart and an avid reader. Add those two together and she will devour books within hours, getting lost in the world the author creates.
Matson resides in the peaceful Piedmont area of NC with her husband and two boys, where staying hopped up on caffeine is the key to her sanity. Chaos is indefinite and a sense of humor is an absolute must.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/TCMatsonAuthor
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorTCMatson
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/730306263756006
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tc_matson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TC_Matson
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tc-matson
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/TC-Matson/e/B00PAY73H4
Website: https://tcmatson.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cec5j1

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Good Sister, by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister,

by Sally Hepworth

Publication: St, Martin’s Press; April 13, 2021

About: There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich, and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

*My Review*

The Good Sister is the latest by Sally Hepworth and has been on my TBR for a while. I finally decided to dig into it yesterday and finished it in just a few hours, so a quick read. This is about twin sisters Rose and Fern. Fern appears to be somewhere on the spectrum, possibly Asperger’s, because she is hypersensitive to lights, sounds, crowds, and some smells, as well as, she has a very straightforward personality completely void of sarcasm. She works in a library, avoids social situations, but truly enjoys helping others find a new book to read. Rose appears to be put together and the caretaker in the relationship. Her husband has seemingly left her and moved to another country and all Rose wants is to have a baby. Rose is seeing a therapist who suggests that she write in a journal to help work on her past/childhood traumas, so her POV is through the journal.

Very early on the author plants the seed that Fern has some serious issues and has committed a horrible crime when they were younger. Rose is painted as the “good sister” that always took the blame for any wrongdoings and has always protected Fern. But it didn’t take me too long to wonder if that was really the case. Things about Rose seemed sort of off from time to time, and I found it odd that her childhood memories were completely different than Fern’s. Granted, my brother and I discover discrepancies in our memories all the time, but not to this point.

When Fern realizes that Rose and her husband Owen want a baby (husband that has moved from Australia to London seemingly for his job). Fern begins researching various ways to provide Rose a baby and decides that she will get pregnant and give her the baby when it’s born. But then she meets Wally, whom she truly develops affection for, and sort of forgets all about her plan. As Fern and Wally get closer and Fern keeps traveling a bit outside of her comfort zone, Rose transitions from protective sister to crazy controlling, eventually changing everything between them and completely shattering what Fern thought was real.

Fern and Wally were both absolutely amazing characters and they completely made this book for me. I love characters that are quirky and unique, which perfectly describes both of them. I completely disliked Rose from the beginning, although I think I was supposed to like her. But something about her just rubbed me the wrong way. When I picked this book up, I was expecting a thriller of sorts, which it is not. I was a bit disappointed because I was in the mood for something suspenseful, but luckily there a few surprises scattered in the ending. I kind of wish all of the revelations at the end would have been explained more as far as why they happened, but overall, this was an entertaining read with a satisfying ending. I will certainly read more from this author in the future!

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase The Good Sister on Amazon!

Book Reviews, Release Blitz

Release Blitz and Review: From Where You Are, by Annie Emerson

RELEASE BLITZ
Title: From Where You Are
Series: Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance Duet #2
Author: Annie Emerson
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 10, 2021

BLURB
Three years ago my life was turned upside down. I felt like I was left barely breathing.
But four months ago, everything changed.

Radley Cooper walked into my life
and taught me how to breathe again.
She had scars of her own, bruises that I was determined would fade away if I just loved her enough.

But all it took was a moment.
Secrets unraveled, our bits of broken that we thought we could survive, wedged their way in between us and refused to stay hidden.

We were stronger than any secret.
Radley was my fate, permanently imprinted on my soul. There wasn’t a length she could run that I wasn’t willing to travel to bring her back to me. There was no way I’d do anything less than fight for her.

Trigger Warning: Please be warned, this duet includes scenes of sexual assault and sensitive subject matter.

*My Review*

Welcome to my stop on the release tour for Annie Emerson’s, From Where You Are. This is not a standalone, therefore, you must start with Thirteen Hours To You, the first book in the series. This review is about From Where You Are, but I need to recap a bit of the first book for everything to make sense. Radley lived with her Dad in a town where everyone knew everyone and Radley had been bullied at school her entire life. After she suffers a horrible attack, they decide that she’ll move to Georgia to live with her grandmother for senior year. Before moving, she meets Kai who is immediately drawn to Radley, although she refuses to believe he would actually like her. Imagine her surprise when she starts school in Georgia only to find Kai a student there also. As she starts making friends and finally enjoying high school, a romance eventually forms between them, only to completely blow up at the end of book one.

So, there’s a lot to unpack in this book (and the series as a whole). Themes include sexual assault, bullying, death, grief, depression, and suicide. If you think that sounds heavy, it is, but completely worth it all in the end. The author did an amazing job with Radley’s characterization, allowing the reader to see her go from a bullied and sad young lady, to vulnerable and starting over, to confident and happy – sometimes multiple times. But what is really amazing about her character is how hard she works to find inner peace and become the person that she wants to be. Kai also goes through several different phases varying between sadness, regret, happiness, and love. But let me say that the big conflict in this novel is a huge one. It’s surprising, emotional, and truly made me think that they would never find their HEA.

This is my first time experiencing Annie Emerson’s writing but I can now say that I am a huge fan of hers. To take such heavy subject matter but also add in such incredibly happy moments had to have been a huge challenge. I applaud her sensitivity towards the difficult topics and love that the resolution was truly worked for and not just handed over. I definitely recommend From Where You Are, just remember to start with Thirteen Hours to You to understand everything. This was a great read!

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57729666-from-where-you-are

PURCHASE LINKS – $2.99 for a limited time!

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Free in Kindle Unlimited

TRAILER
*click here to see the trailer for the book!
Starring cover model Vadim Ivanov (@ivadim13)

EXCERPTS

#1

He took my mouth hard, his groan moved through my body with a rumble as he pushed harder and deeper into my mouth. He was manic as his heated lips descended to my neck. Tongues and teeth grazed my skin, a hand fisted my hair, directing every desperate move he made. ⠀

He was the conductor, I was the music, we were the perfect song. The sounds we made were unfiltered, uninhibited. We were lost to one another and I fell a little further as I let the freefall consume me. ⠀

“This is how it should always be. This is how we were meant to be,” he said, as he ran his thumb across my swollen lips.

#2

I wiped the broken pieces from my face and took in a shattered breath. “Just drive.” ⠀

My head fell forward into my hands, shutting out the world as my heartbeat crashed and roared. ⠀

Set me free.
Let me Go.
Don’t follow me.
Never leave.
Love me. ⠀
But please, don’t ever hate me.

#3

“How did I live before you? How did I fucking feel before you?” he growled. ⠀

My eyes stung with shocked ecstasy, locked on him wide and expectant. His nose flared, his name in flight as it left my tongue on repeat, and I fell apart around him. He whispered sweet nothings and secrets only he and I would ever know and I quaked around him, each twitch and spasm drawn from me as he wound me back down. ⠀

“Promise me you’ll never leave, Violet.” His voice was small, lost, like there would ever come a day where that was even possible. ⠀

“I promise I’ll never leave you, Meekai. I wouldn’t know how.” ⠀

He closed his eyes and nodded to himself, his thoughts his own. Maybe they’d be mine one day, but for now, I knew they had to stay as his.

He opened his eyes, his lips a deep shade of pink, imprinted with the aftershocks of love, tinged with absolute loyalty as each corner drew up into an easy smile… He crawled up alongside me and pulled me into his arms, chest to chest, heartbeat against heartbeat.

#4

“… Violet, all I see when I look at you is light. You blind me with all those pieces that you think are battered, broken and useless. You’re not useless or unwanted, Radley. I know you use your words as weapons, and I know you try to push me away because you’re afraid I’ll eventually give up on you. I can see past it all, Violet. Hurt recognizes hurt.” ⠀

“You’re hurt?” she asked with beautiful curiosity. ⠀

“Yeah, Violet, I’m hurt. But aren’t we all?”
I want all your hurt. “Tell me a truth, Radley. Tell me something that’s all yours.” ⠀

I knew it was pushing it, but I could see a part of her that wanted to let something go, she just didn’t know how.  ⠀

“So much was stolen from me, Meekai. I could never tell you to your face what that was, but just let me get away with that being enough. Can you do that?”

I reached out for her hand and drew lazy slow circles across the top of her soft skin. I smiled with nothing less than an I’d say yes to anything that helped make you feel safe.

“Yeah, Violet, I can do that. I want you to know something, though.” ⠀

She raised a brow that asked me what that could possibly be. What did I want her to know? ⠀

“You’re enough, Boo Radley Cooper. You’re enough.”

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#1 Thirteen Hours to You – 99c for a limited time!

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AUTHOR BIO

Annie Emerson is an Australian author who started writing poetry at the age of fourteen. Poetry turned into lyrics, lyrics turned into music, and music crossed over into novels. The words became too big to contain, and she finally gave into her biggest dream to become a professional writer.

Thirteen Hours To You is Annie’s debut novel and book one in the ‘Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance Duet.’

Annie writes with a poetic lilt, and loves to create characters that are relatable, perfectly imperfect, and a little bit lost. She only believes in writing happily ever afters, because real life doesn’t write enough of its own. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be less than a whole lot bumpy as the characters she writes find their way.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annieemersonauthor
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249276393543993
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emotionallyunhingedromantic
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21325741.Annie_Emerson
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annie-emerson

Uncategorized

Release Blitz and Review: Twisted Love (Twisted Book 1), by Ana Huang

RELEASE BLITZ
Title: Twisted Love
Series: Twisted #1
Author: Ana Huang
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 29, 2021

BLURB

He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.
A melt.
A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend.
Her neighbor.
Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.

Twisted Love is a brother’s best friend/opposites attract romance with plenty of heat and no cliffhangers. Recommended for 18+ due to adult language and explicit content.

**My Review** 

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for Ana Huang’s, Twisted Love! Ana Huang is a new to me author and I’m so happy to have discovered a new author to enjoy! This is the story of Alex and Ava and their slow burn and somewhat rocky path to love.  Alex is not a one-woman man, puts most of his energy into his business, and is best friends with Ava’s brother. Ava is a free-spirited college student about to graduate with her degree in photography and is almost always happy. When Josh leaves the country and asks Alex to watch over Ava, Alex takes it very seriously, almost to the part of smothering her, but then she starts to notice feelings developing for the usually cold-hearted Alex who is slowly warming up. But just when you think they have found a forever love in one another, horrible secrets come out that change everything.

Twisted Love is labeled as Contemporary Romance and Amazon has it filed under Asian American Romance, City Life Fiction, and Multicultural Romance. All of those are fine but I almost feel as if Romantic Suspense should be thrown in there also. While their developing relationship is certainly the focus, there are some sketchy issues with Ava’s ex, and most importantly, a crazy twist climactic moment that I never saw coming. We know all along that Alex wants revenge because of a horrible childhood trauma. We also learn pretty on about Ava’s nightmares and suppressed memories. But as Ava begins unraveling the truth about her childhood and when the “big moment” happens with Alex, it felt suspenseful and thrilling.

Let me be clear – when everything was revealed, I was completely blindsided and blown away.

Plot and character development are certainly well done in this novel, although at times I struggled with some of the things almost being too far-fetched. The supporting cast of characters sparked my interest also and I believe that we will get their stories in future installments of this series. Fans of a steamy, complicated romance mixed with crazy surprises will enjoy this book. It is a complete standalone with no cliffhangers, but I think you’ll want to watch for future books after reading this one. I know I can’t wait! 

*Thanks to GMB for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55817097-twisted-love

PURCHASE LINKS – $2.99 for a limited time!

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Also available in special edition paperback: https://amzn.to/3eogSN8
Cover designed by E. James Designs

EXCERPT

Something smelled delicious, like spice and heat. I wanted to wrap it around me like a blanket.

I snuggled closer to the source, enjoying the strong, solid warmth beneath my cheek. I didn’t want to wake up, but I’d promised Bridget I would volunteer at a local pet shelter with her this morning, before my afternoon shift at the gallery.

I allowed myself one more minute of coziness—had my bed always been this big and soft—before I opened my eyes and yawned.

Weird. My room looked different. No photograph prints papering the walls, no vase of sunflowers by the bed. And did my bed just move by itself?

My eyes latched onto the broad expanse of bare skin beneath me, and my stomach dropped. I looked up, up—straight into a pair of familiar green eyes. Eyes that stared back at me with no hint of the humor from last night.

He flicked his gaze down. I followed it…and realized, to my abject horror, that I was touching Alex Volkov’s dick. Unintentionally, and he had on sweats, but still.

I. Was. Touching. Alex. Volkov’s. Dick.

And it was hard.

COMING SOON

#2 Twisted Games – Releasing July 29

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AUTHOR BIO

Ana Huang is an author of primarily steamy New Adult and contemporary romance. Her books contain diverse characters and emotional, sometimes twisty roads toward HEAs (with plenty of banter and spice sprinkled in). Besides reading and writing, Ana loves traveling, is obsessed with hot chocolate, and has multiple relationships with fictional boyfriends.

AUTHOR LINKS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authoranahuang
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@authoranahuang
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoranahuang
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/anasstarsquad
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ana-huang

Book Reviews

Book Review: Rough Road (Whiskey River Road #7), by Kelly Moore

Rough Road (Whiskey River Road #7), by Kelly Moore

Publication: May 20, 2021

About: Clem and Boone are the backbone of the Calhoun family. They found their second chance together many years ago after Clem left him at the altar. They’re happily married, but Clem has never been able to give Boone the one thing she feels he wanted the most.

Boone is a happy, satisfied cowboy. He adores his wife and daughter, wanting for nothing more, but to live the rest of his days growing old with the woman he loves. His life is perfect other than the teenage daughter that’s driving him nuts. His ideal life is about to take a rough road he never saw coming, and he’s not sure he will survive it.

Clem is madly in love with Boone. He’s a good husband and father. She’s one lucky lady to have such a hot cowboy. He’s protective and broody when it comes to the Calhoun’s and she wouldn’t have him any other way. Life couldn’t be any better…until she gets news that will turn her whole world upside down. Rough doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The secret she keeps from Boone may tear them apart. It will be a test of their love not only between them, but the entire Calhoun clan. Will they be able to stand together or will it finally be the one thing that rips them apart?

*My Review*

At the end of Ethan and Jane’s book, Magnolia Mill, I was basically heartbroken that this series was coming to an end. I have read every book that Kelly Moore has published over the years, but this series has been my favorite. So guess how happy I was to find out that she was fast-forwarding the series to continue their stories ten years later? I was thrilled! Rough Road begins with Boone and Clem, still unable to keep their hands off of one another, and their life raising their now seventeen-year-old daughter, Rose. Bear and Nita’s daughter Missy is also seventeen, and she’s now training horses with hopes of going to the Kentucky Derby. The rest of the gang is around happily married and raising their kids, with Chet still trying to call the shots. We also get a new character, a young man named Tucker that quickly catches Missy’s eye and reminds Boone a lot of his younger self. Everything seems happy and perfect, but it’s not. 

When I first started this book, I thought it was going to focus on the girls now that they are older, especially once Tucker’s character was introduced. However, just like the start of this series, Boone and Clem are the main focus with plenty of activity from all of the other family members blended in. All of the ladies still can’t stay away from their alpha men, Chet’s cranky most of the time but not nearly like they used to be, Rose and Missy have grown up and are starting to cause problems for their parents, just as they did for Chet when they were younger. But then we learn Clem’s secrets, thus introducing a huge internal and external conflict for Clem, Boone, and the entire family.

I’ve always loved Kelly Moore’s writing and imagery making it to where all of my senses come alive while reading, but her characterization in this book is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Clem and Boone have been around since the beginning with moods varying from steaming mad to silliness to sexy. But now she has taken them to a completely different level, demonstrating parts of their characters that I never expected – fear, hopelessness, anger, and resentment. Don’t get me wrong, Rough Road will make you laugh (and possibly blush) as much as the other books, but I was floored at the seriousness of portions of the plot and the transformations of Boone and Clem throughout the book.

Did I mention how much Kleenex you need to have on hand while reading this book?

Yes, this book did make me cry my eyes out. But don’t worry about it being a downer! Although there were certainly tears of sadness, there were also plenty of tears of joy and laughter. As typical with Kelly Moore, there were plenty of subplots that built tension, added to the characters’ depth, and that were just plain funny! There’s ample romance, teenage crushes, teenagers going behind their parents’ backs, serious storms, and much, much more. And just wait until Clem show’s up at Winnie’s pampered pet shop to cover Winnie’s lunch! That is a priceless scene that will have you dying laughing and cringing at the same time.

Rough Road is a spectacular book that has honestly taken this series to the next level. Moore has poured her heart and soul into her characters and their experiences which is evident from the first word to the last. There is romance, tension, suspense, sadness, and joy all wrapped up in this perfect package. This is absolutely a five-star read which I highly recommend, but as always with this series, make sure you start at the beginning to fully appreciate each wonderful character and their amazing journeys.

*See below for reading order and links to reviews. 

**Thanks to Kelly Moore for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinions!

Pre-Order Rough Road on Amazon!

Missed the start of this series? Check out my reviews for books 1-6! P.S. they are free right now with Kindle Unlimited!

coming homeComing Home (Whiskey River Road, #1)

A cowboy. An empty altar. Coming home is complicated.

What stopped me from walking down the aisle to the perfect man? My stupid rebel heart, that’s what. 

I loved Boone Methany with everything I had, but I wanted more than just the ranch I grew up on and training horses for the rest of my life. Leaving him on our wedding day wasn’t something I planned on. Neither was coming back to my family ranch after seven years in the military just to eat a heaping helping of crow.

I thought I was prepared to see him again. What I wasn’t ready for, was him being engaged.

Coming home is about to get mighty complicated.

stolen heartsStolen Hearts (Whiskey River Road, #2)

A thief and a single father don’t bode well. She’s snarky, and sexy which can only lead to two broken hearts.

It was a day like any other on the ranch.

Hard work and no play makes for a cranky cowboy. Needing a night out on the town left me sneaking in my father’s house like a teenage boy.  That was my first mistake of the day.

The second was playing hero to a damsel in distress that turned out to be no damsel at all but a sexy, snarky woman who took me by surprise.

How you ask?

I’d been a ladies man.  That is until I became a father.  My rebel days were gone. A six-year-old sassy daughter changed all of that for me.  I didn’t need the complicated messy kind of love stuff. My hands were full.

A mission into town to handle a family issue would make my life more muddled. The day I met the woman who would steal my heart.

A thief. A woman on the run.  A woman with one too many secrets.  A woman whom I had to save because if I didn’t, I feared she disappear and take two hearts with her. I wasn’t prepared for the danger she was in and the decision I’d have to make. She’d hate me for sure.

I definitely wasn’t prepared for her to leave.

three wordsThree Words (Whiskey River Road #3)

Wild at heart. One hot cowboy. A heap of trouble.

What stopped me from saying the three words Ian wanted to hear? My stubbornness that protected my heart, that’s what.

A handsome cowboy with a hot body and a sense of humor to boot, Ian Daughtry was everything a woman could ask for. He was downright pretty to look at. The day he left my world spun out of control. It changed me inside. I was no longer the sweet, innocent girl. Instead, I became the wild child desperate to feel anything but love.

Now he’s back, slipped into town unbeknownst to me. My family knew but didn’t want to tell me, afraid it would rip me apart.

I have a news flash for him. I don’t care how hot he is, he ain’t gettin’ me back. This woman has done fine on her own. But boy howdy… just seeing him he sent me in a tailspin. One that might get me in a heap of trouble.

kentucky rainKentucky Rain (Whiskey River Road, #4)

A law-abiding man, breaking all the rules and dodging love. I’ll either run her off or give her my heart.

I threw in my hat, giving up my job as a lawyer to become the one thing I swore I never would…a cowboy. I’ve lived on my father’s ranch my entire life, but never learned how to be a rancher’s son. Instead, I was urged to become an attorney by my father, who doesn’t live by the letter of the law.

Now, I’m left picking up the pieces of my life, trying to figure out who I am, and what I want. Trouble is brewing for me, I can feel it in my bones, especially when my friends-with-benefits relationship with Margret starts to feel like something more than I have to give. She deserves a better man than me.

My plan is to keep her at arm’s length. Her plan is to pull me in closer

wild rideWild Ride (Whiskey River Road, #5)

He’s a tough cowboy. She’s a wild ride and the daughter of his family’s enemy. Will they let passion win out, or will it tear them to pieces?

Noah was raised apart from his family. Now, he’s trying to fit in with the Calhouns. But fitting in isn’t always easy when you’ve been a loner. A roll in the hay with a gorgeous woman fits his lifestyle. Falling in love was never in his plans.

Molly Granger’s lived a hard, dedicated life to her father. A man she loathes but has pledged her loyalty to—at least by all appearances. Her only focus has been revenge, even at the cost of her own life. Her goal is thrown off-kilter the day she meets Noah in a bar.

The connection between Molly and Noah is raw and intense, but neither one wants to admit their attraction. A wedge forms between them when Noah finds out her father is enemy number one.

Trapped between desire and vengeance, will they find a middle ground?

Magnolia Mill (Whiskey River Road #6)

She moved to Salt Lick Kentucky to a family she never knew. Now that she’s cured, she has a second chance at love. Will she take it or will she let fear chase him away?

Jane moved from Texas to Tennessee with her twin brother Noah to a family she had never met. She was overwhelmed with the warmth she received from each one of them. She was broken and dying. They healed her physically but they couldn’t take away her inward scars. She fixed herself up, plastered on a smile, and won the hearts of the town. As mayor of Salt Lick, she had a new beginning to fulfill her dreams, fall in love. Her only problem was, she wasn’t ready to let go of her heart so easily.

Ethan York came home with his best friend, Clem Calhoun. He was a big city boy trying to manage his life on the ranch. He found his calling in life; to be a cowboy. He also fell in love with Jane the first time he laid eyes on her. Neither one of them were ready to explore their emotions. Time passed and Ethan felt like he couldn’t breathe any longer with her in his life. His new job landed them working together on projects. The fire within him was ignited. Jane pushed him away. But Ethan proved to be one persistent man, like a dog with a bone.

She was trapped behind her secrets, not willing to share them. Will she ever be able to let go and fall in love, again?

Book Reviews, Release Blitz

Release Blitz and Review: Bail Out (Smoke and Fire #2), by Suzanne Winslow

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Bail Out Ebook CoverRELEASE BLITZ
Title: Bail Out
Series: Smoke and Fire #2
Author: Suzanne Winslow
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 17, 2021
BLURB

Once he made up his mind, there was no changing it back …

At sixteen, Rachel Miller fell in love with her brother’s best friend. Eleven years her senior, Nate Doyle never gave her a second look. Nine years later, nothing’s changed—the handsome firefighter still keeps her at an arm’s length.

Raised in a traditional Irish family, Nate respects commitment. So much so that he has no intention of going down that road again. His relationships are measured in weeks or months, which makes his best friend’s sister off limits.

After watching Rachel get her heart broken again, Nate is no longer willing to stand on the sidelines. It means he must become a different man, if only Rachel can see the changes he’s made. This time, it’s too important to bail out.

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for Suzanne Winslow’s second in her Smoke and Fire series, Bail Out.  In case you missed the first book, this series is about a group of close friends that are fire fighters, and the women that come into their lives and hearts. Nate has known Rachel forever, considering that her brother is one of his best friends. But Nate has also had hidden feelings for Rachel, just like she has for him. Finally, Nate decides to tell Rachel how he feels but not long after their romance heats up, things happen making him think he should walk away. After realizing he made a mistake, he now has to work harder than ever to win Rachel back.

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book better than the first in the series. Although I liked the overall story with Matt and Jenifer, their book seemed overly cluttered and seemed to go on forever. Nate and Rachel’s book moved at a much faster pace without sacrificing any details of their romance. I loved the idea of young Rachel doodling Nate’s name on her notebooks in high school and finally getting the chance to be with her dream man! Readers that don’t need all the dirty details in the love scenes will love this book! Yes, there are references to sexy times, but nothing over the top. Unfortunately, there were several times I felt like I was more excited about it then they were. Maybe because they were always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the characters felt really flat to me for a lot of the book. As the ending approached, however, both Nate and Rachel seemed to have a lot more of a light-hearted and happy feeling which was a relief. I guess it felt more like telling than showing.

I like Suzanne Winslow’s plot and character ideas and saw a lot of growth between her writing in Bail Out versus Burned. I believe there is going to be a third book in the series (I’m thinking maybe Kyle) and I look forward to checking it out in the future!

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55855628-bail-out

Bail Out Teaser 1

PURCHASE LINKS

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UK: https://amzn.to/3aB1Pix
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AU: https://amzn.to/3qB462E

Free in Kindle Unlimited
Bail Out Teaser 2

EXCERPT

As the band played, the dance floor filled. Nate looked over the top of his beer bottle as Rachel asked Grant to dance. It was shaping up to be a line dance and Grant, not looking like the cowboy boogie-type, begged off a second time.
She flashed Caroline a hopeful grin. “Do you want to dance?”
Caroline’s eyes darted to the dance floor. “I don’t know how to do that.”
Rachel set her hands on her hips. She cocked her head toward the line forming behind them. “Come on. I’ll teach you.”
Caroline shot Nate a pleading look as if asking him to save her. He bumped her shoulder instead. “Go ahead. Knock ’em dead.”
And damn, if she didn’t. She picked up the steps quickly, laughing every time she turned the wrong way or kicked out the opposite foot. It wasn’t long before she was rocking the arms and rolling her hips, but with an ethereal quality Nate had never witnessed in a country line dance before. Beside her, Rachel moved to the music a little differently, more seductive, less inhibited. Side by side with Caroline, he began to suspect Rachel wasn’t as innocent and naive as her older brother wanted to believe. Nate continued to watch her dance, enthralled. He’d just as soon imagine his sisters naked as he would Caroline, but Rachel? She conjured up fantasies even he’d never imagined before.
Grant paid no mind to Nate. His eyes were locked on Rachel’s long lithe body on the dance floor. She had a type, and this guy was it—tall, fair-haired, destined for a corner office. Nate brushed a hand over his scruffy face. Rachel could look him square in the eye when she wore heels. The only office he hoped to get was a concrete box with a pushout window.
Jealousy spiked in his chest before he finally pushed back from the table and headed back to the bar.
Faces flushed and smiling, Rachel and Caroline wove their way back to the table after he returned. He set a glass of water in front of Caroline, relieved to see Rachel drinking water, too.
Good. He preferred her date tonight ended with her sober.
Grant looked down at his phone as the band took a break and then leaned sideways to say something to Rachel. Nate sent her a curious look after Grant passed the bouncer and went outside.
Rachel shrugged and set down her glass as recorded music started to play over the loudspeakers. “He said he had to take a call for work.”
Caroline touched Nate’s shoulder. “Do you know which way is the toilet?”
Rachel smiled when he pointed to the far end of the bar.
Caroline stood. “I’ll be right back.”
“It’s just called the toilet in Ireland,” Nate explained after Caroline disappeared into the crowd. “Tell me more about Kieran. How does he like his new home?”
Rachel leaned her elbows on the table, her expression turning all sweet and sappy. “I think he’s happy. He meets me at the door every day when I get home and he likes to sleep in bed with me at night.”
“Hmmm,” was the best Nate could do.
She dropped her chin into her hands. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“How much Irish do you speak?”
He grinned, assuming cussing didn’t count. “I only know a few words that my father taught me.”
Rachel’s lips twitched.
“What?”
“Your accent. You’re starting to sound a little bit like your girlfriend.”
He could tell she was teasing him, but he still felt the color rising in his cheeks. “I told you, Caroline and I are friends.”
She sat back and laughed as Lonestar’s “Amazed” began to play. “Matt’s right. Your Irish does come out when you’ve been drinking.”
Nate just shrugged. His accent was a byproduct of parents born and raised in Ireland. His father was proud of his thick Irish accent. His mother tried not to speak with any accent at all, but sometimes it would sneak out when one of her four kids got her riled up. It snuck out on him, too, sometimes, and not just while he was drinking. Times Matt didn’t know about. Moments Nate wished Rachel did.
Leaning closer, enough so that he could feel her warm breath on his cheek, she looked at him. “I have to ask you…did that kiss mean anything at all to you?”
He didn’t know how to answer. He thought about lying or twisting the truth. Or just brushing her off altogether. But he couldn’t do it. “Of course it meant something to me. But it can’t happen again.”
She let out a short laugh. “Then it didn’t mean much at all, did it?”
He stared at her, his throat so tight he could barely breathe. He told himself to keep his mouth shut. Put her first. Forget her.
But no, he looked over his shoulder for Caroline instead and then damn near lost his head. “Rachel, I’m crazy about you.” I love you! He clenched his jaw, determined to salvage the big fat mess he’d made. “But be realistic. I’m not the right guy for you.”
She eased back with defiance. “Who says?”
“How about we start with your brother?”
Her lips pinched together. He’d hit a nerve. “Who says I’m looking for Mr. Right?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’m not looking for a ring, Nate. I want to go out, have fun, blow off a little steam. That doesn’t work for you, so I won’t bother you again.”
Smoke and Fire Series 2

ALSO AVAILABLE

#1 Burned

US: https://amzn.to/2W11PR9
UK: https://amzn.to/2DoJneR
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AU: https://amzn.to/38IrGTc

Free in Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR BIO

Suzanne Winslow writes the kind of stories she loves to read—contemporary romance with relatable characters, unsung heroes and heroines, and true-to-life stories. Nurses, teachers, firefighters, and Marines top her list of champions. Give her a book about strong, brave characters with hidden vulnerabilities and a secret passion, and she’ll binge read to the end!

Suzanne and her husband, along with their rescue dog, Murphy, call Upstate New York home. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s often planning a road trip, or if it’s summertime, hanging out at the lake. Connecting with readers through Instagram, Facebook, and newsletters is a favorite pastime.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: http://www.suzannewinslow.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suzannewinslowauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSuzanneWinslow
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16752001.Suzanne_Winslow
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Winslow/e/B0892W8WCL

Book Blitz, Book Reviews, Giveaway, Release Blitz

Release Blitz, Review, & Giveaway: Always With You (Matchbox series, #3), by E.H. Lyon

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RELEASE BLITZ
Title: Always with You
Series: Matchbox #3
Author: E.H. Lyon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 3, 2021 
Always With You Ebook CoverBLURB

 

This sexy CEO is about to get everything he always wanted; she just needs to say yes…

Leo Hart is back after an 18-month absence and he’s ready for some responsibility as he takes on the role of CEO of the family company. Persistence, determination and getting what he wants is what he is used to. But it turns out his biggest challenge isn’t in the boardroom.

It’s the surprise son he didn’t even know he had… with Jess.

They were at each other’s throats for years except that one time when they aimed a little lower. Jess is adamant they stick to co-parenting only. But when they agree to temporarily live together so Leo can bond with their son, he decides to use his CEO tactics to persuade his favorite redhead to upgrade their frenemy co-parenting titles to something more. Strong-willed Jess drives on the side of caution, but Leo is confident that she and him—well, they were always going to end up together.

Always with You is the third sweet and sexy standalone novel from the “Matchbox” series where you can re-visit all your favorite characters throughout.

*My Review* 

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for E.H. Lyon’s, Always With You! This 3rd novel in the series is about Leo and Jess as he returns to town after 18 months to learn that the one night stand they had before he left resulted in a little baby named Sam. Leo and Jess have always been enemies that loved to fight and get under each other’s skin, but as they start trying to co-parent, it becomes evident that all the years of fighting was really flirting. 

In previous installments in this series, I haven’t been 100% sure whether or not I loved Jess or hated her. After reading Always With You I can happily say that I absolutely love her. My earlier opinions of her being a bitchy business woman have been replaced by thoughts such as caring mother, vulnerable, and wanting love. I’ve always loved Leo with his sarcasm and “don’t care” attitude, but I also saw a completely different side of him which was smitten and oh so hopeful. 

Always With You had my complete attention from the first page to the last and it’s honestly difficult to think of any criticism at all. I got a little frustrated at times with Jess’ stubbornness and quick temper, but it actually added to the story making me wonder if they would get together or not. So this one is pretty much a 5-star read for me as a whole! If you have not yet started this series, they are each standalones so you will be o.k. if you want to just jump in with this one. However, I feel that to truly understand the Leo/Jess dynamic, it would be better to start with book 1, Different With You and book 2, Crazy With You. Nevertheless, add this one to your TBR if you are a fan of enemies to lover romances! 

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56332520-always-with-you
Always With You Out Now 1

PURCHASE LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/3t7verC
UK: https://amzn.to/3adXUXo
CA: https://amzn.to/36h7Nm0
AU: https://amzn.to/39otjXU
B&N: https://bit.ly/3omTgvr
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3ooUypt
Apple Books: http://apple.co/2MvbGg8
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3iUzvtW

SERIES TRAILER

Check out the amazing trailer for the Matchbox series here

EXCERPT

“Guest room?” I ask, tilting my head and letting my eyes trail her up and down. I know she’s watching me.
“Yes. Just because you saw my bed once doesn’t mean you need to see it again.” Jess seems determined with her logic, but her breathing has changed.
Smiling, I lean in to whisper near her ear. “It isn’t your bed that I’m worried about.” I tuck a strand of her hair behind her shoulder and she flinches. She looks at me, confused.  “It’s the kitchen,” I add.
I let her brain work for a second before I continue.
“I am 100% certain that is the reason we have Sam.” I have a confident grin on my face and I gently rub my chin as I watch her connect the dots in her memory.
She bites her lip and lets out a sigh as her head tilts. I can see a grin forming at the corner of her mouth, even though she doesn’t want me to see as she looks away. She brushes past me and walks towards the door.
“No lunch?” I ask, satisfied with myself.
“I lost my appetite.” She walks out the door with an extra sway to her step.  

Always With You Collage
AUTHOR BIO

E.H. Lyon hates folding laundry and decided one day to avoid it by writing fun, witty, and steamy stories. An American from the Midwest, she now lives in Europe with her small pack of humans. She believes the essence of balance is sitting on a yoga mat listening to music while eating a donut. And she absolutely loves finding a new book boyfriend to swoon-over, hearing from other authors, and connecting with people who read her books. 

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorehlyon
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorehlyon
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20767232.E_H_Lyon
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/e-h-lyon
Newsletter: https://authorehlyon.com/newsletter
Website: http://www.authorehlyon.com

GIVEAWAY

There is a giveaway for a $10 gift card (Apple or Amazon, winner’s choice) + ebooks of the first 3 books in the Matchbox Series (1 winner, open internationally)

Enter here and good luck!!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Amelia Unabridged, by Ashley Schumacher

Amelia Unabridged,

by Ashley Schumacher

Publication: Wednesday Books; February 16, 2021

ameliaAbout: Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.

*My Review*

Oh, my heart! It’s been quite awhile since I read something that I loved as much as this debut by author Ashely Schumacher. Amelia Unabridged is a young adult novel about Amelia, her best friend Jenna, and their shared loved of the Orman Chronicles books by N.E. Endsley. I don’t want to waste time repeating the blurb but these girls are the best of friends, have a horrible fight, they sort of make up, Jenna dies, then Amelia receives an extremely rare edition of one of their favorite books. She calls the bookstore in Michigan attempting to find out who sent it, but gets no information. Luckily, she decides to travel from Dallas to the small Michigan town to try to figure out the mystery, because this takes her to her beloved author himself, Nolan (pen name, N.E. Endsley). 

Let me start by getting a few trigger warnings out of the way. This book contains death. You already know that Jenna dies in a car accident, but there is also a flashback to another incident concerning death of children. It is brief and necessary, but it is there.

Amelia Unabridged is everything beautiful and wonderful that a reader hopes for. The writing is flawless, especially the complexity and imagery although intended for a YA audience. It can be happily read by either the intended age group or adults, such as myself, and be enjoyed wither way. The characters are beautifully and realistically flawed making them seem so relatable, despite being such a magical and dreamy plot. Speaking of the plot, the pacing is perfect with not one dull moment in the novel. Every word and every line are purposeful to the development of the story, without filler descriptions, flashbacks, or dialog. I promise that you will not find yourself skimming or your mind drifting while reading this one.

I adored every single character in this novel, but there just are not enough words for me to describe how amazing and special both Amelia and Nolan are. These two damaged souls come together and just bring the other one a peace they thought was no longer attainable. This isn’t a romance novel, it’s truly more important than that. However, you will find yourself noticing a fast-forming connection and spark between Amelia and Nolan, as well as, find yourself hoping, praying, and cheering for them to be together. Alex, Nolan’s best friend, is also such in incredible and thoughtful character. I actually stopped to think about it a few times that I never knew 18-19 year old boys like that when I was that age. Where were they?? And Alex’s mom and bookstore owner Valerie is such a huge character there could have been a book written just about her, which would be fascinating, I’m sure. 

To summarize, this book comes with my highest recommendation regardless of your typical preferred genre. Whether you are navigating through your early teen years or enjoying your retirement years, this is book that any reader can relate to and enjoy. I especially recommend this novel to anyone that has been thinking of making a change, pursuing a new hobby or career, or just thinking of going somewhere different. There is such beauty in taking the unknown path. Thank you to the author for writing such a touching novel!

*Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Purchase Amelia Unabridged from Amazon!

 

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Downstairs Neighbor, by Helen Cooper

The Downstairs Neighbor,

by Helen Cooper

Publication: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; February 16, 2021

downstairsAbout: One House. Three Families. Countless Secrets.

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?

The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing twenty-five years earlier, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.

**My Review**

The Downstairs Neighbor is the debut novel of author Helen Cooper and has been categorized as mystery/thriller, as well as, women’s psychological fiction. There are three tenants in a shared house in London. There are Paul, Steph, and their seventeen year old daughter Freya upstairs. Emma is downstairs, and Chris and his wife Vicky are in the lower apartment with a separate entrance. One afternoon, Steph comes home to an empty home when Freya should be there. She asks her neighbors if they have seen her and tries to reach her husband but as the hours pass, they realize that she is missing. The result is a twisted “guess whodunnit” from multiple POVs as you try to figure out what happened to Freya and who each of the characters really are. The story is told from Paul, Steph, Chris, Emma and Kate’s POV, although Kate’s POV is a flashback from 25 years earlier. It’s sort of confusing at times, but works overall. As typical with so many thrillers, it takes no time at all for every character to seem that they are a potential suspect – but there is so much more to this novel.

I probably only read about 10-15 novels of this genre a year, but when I do, I typically dive in and don’t stop reading from beginning to end. It took me several times to really commit and invest into this one. I’m struggling to describe why, but it took me a little bit to get into it. So, from about the 15-20% mark on my Kindle app until about the 70% mark I was completely consumed. Every narrator was unreliable in their own way, there were tons of lies and inconsistencies, and there was no indication whatsoever as to what happened to Freya. I was in love with this book and no one could tear my attention away. But then it happened. Things got way too busy and too complicated. There’s a fine line between too little, just enough, and too much. Everyone’s personal baggage and secrets started leaking out and unfortunately, some of them were just silly. Yes, they explained plot points, but it just seemed a little much. I felt like my brain was getting cluttered and just on complete overload. 

Despite all of that, I will say that Helen Cooper surprised the hell out of me multiple times. I never imagined the novel ending as it did and for that, I give her kudos. But Emma coddling her son Zeb was exhausting, Paul’s weird previous life storyline made so sense and was boring, and Steph’s secrets were just weird. This is a good book and if someone asked if I recommend it, I would say yes. However, it didn’t need quite so much “stuff.” Had Paul’s side story been left out, I think it would have been absolute perfection. Or maybe a bit less of Emma’s whininess? But overall, this was a pretty good read. Considering this was her debut novel, bravo!

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.