Book Reviews

Book Review: The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple,

by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Publication: St. Martin’s Press; March 8, 2022

About: Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem like the golden couple – until Marissa is unfaithful. But she wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband.

Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery Chambers is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counselling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

As soon as the Bishops walk through Avery’s door, all three set on a collusion course that will change their lives forever.

Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger…

**My Review**

I have been dying to read this one based on other reviews and it absolutely did not disappoint! This is about Matthew and Marissa as they start unconventional therapy sessions with Avery. Marissa has been unfaithful but wants to save their marriage for the sake of their 8-year-old son, Bennett. Avery isn’t a normal therapist and has actually had her license revoked, but her 10 session methods are very effective. The problem is, however, is that no one is being honest.

What a fantastic thriller! This novel begins in a way to make the reader think that this seemingly perfect couple is struggling, which led to Marissa being unfaithful, which led to seeking therapy. But oh no, there is so much more. Matthew and Marissa have been together since they were teenagers but their marriage has grown distant with more time spent apart rather than together, thus prompting Marissa to take part in a one-time indiscretion. Marissa has a super-nosy and dishonest assistant who works for her at her boutique that seems about as unreliable and dishonest as they come. One of her and Matthew’s friends has always had a thing for Matthew, planting seeds of doubt there. Then there is the therapist, Avery, who has a ton of her own issues stemming from an issue with her previous client causing her to double-check locks non-stop and check the back seat of her car before getting in it – not to mention being followed and threatened.

So a ton of crap is going on, Marissa is overwhelmed with guilt, Matthew is overwhelmed with anger because she cheated, and the therapist who knows no boundaries and is completely unorthodox is fighting her own demons. Sounds great, right?

I loved everything about this novel from beginning to end with one exception. I didn’t realize this was a co-written novel until after I read it, but while I was reading, I felt like there were huge, disjointed sections that didn’t mesh with everything else. One chapter would be a page-turner where I was dying for the next word and then there would be a chapter that I would skim because it was overly wordy and honestly, irrelevant. Once I realized that this was co-authored it made more sense but was really unfortunate because, in the past, I have truly enjoyed co-authored novels and how they seamlessly blend.

Other than that, I have no complaints. I was shocked, surprised, confused, surprised again, and so on. The Golden Couple possesses everything I love about thrillers as far as planting seeds of doubt, changing your mind, and then planting seeds of doubt all over again. I was completely in the dark, overall, up until about the 85% mark – so thank you to the authors for making this one surprising! I highly recommend this one to any thriller fans and hope you love it as much as I did!

*Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Pre-Order The Golden Couple on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Moment I Met You, by Debbie Johnson

The Moment I Met You, by Debbie Johnson

Publication: William Morrow; March 8, 2022


When I was twenty-six years old my world was literally turned upside down and inside out, like a coat pocket being excavated for loose change. It was terrible, and frightening, and it taught me a lot of things I never wanted to know.”

Elena Godwin has scrimped and saved for a relaxing dream holiday in Mexico with her handsome but laddish boyfriend Harry. Life has felt a bit less exciting than she’d imagined her twenties would be, and she’s hoping the trip will add some sizzle. But on a gorgeous summer evening an earthquake strikes—shattering their peaceful vacation. The trauma changes Elena’s life forever.

Ten years later, Elena still can’t forget the face of the stranger she met that night—the man who may have saved her life. When they’re suddenly and unexpectedly thrown back together again, Elena starts to uncover the truth around that fateful night, and question whether she should have lived her life differently in the years afterwards.

What if it’s not too late?

**My Review**

Oh my goodness I loved this book! This is the story of Elena and Harry who have been dating forever, things are kind of getting stale, so they take a long vacation to Mexico. One perfectly wonderful night, an earthquake destroys the small village they are visiting and changes their lives forever. Elena was chatting with another man from their guided tour, Alex, right before the earthquake, with whom she ends up sharing the trauma of the earthquake, and it immediately bonds the two together. Years later, Elena is going through the motions of her life and marriage to Harry when she is approached by a young filmmaker wanting to interview Elena for a documentary she is making to mark the ten-year anniversary of the earthquake. As she starts remembering and processing the events from the horrible night, Elena slowly starts to wake up and look closely at the life she has made and the life that she wants.

Debbie Johnson is a new-to-me author and her writing is beautiful. This is one of the best uses of descriptive language that I can recall, making me see, hear, and smell everything that was around them in that small Mexican village, in the hospital, and then years later in their lives in England. The only exception is Elena herself. I cannot tell you what she looked like. But everything else was so descriptive it lept off of the page.

I loved Elena’s character and only wanted wonderful things for her, but unfortunately, I felt sorry for her for the majority of this book. Her character put everyone but herself first until about the 85% mark in the book. I wanted to shake her at times and tell her to run away and be happy, but that’s just not who she was. I loved Alex’s calm demeanor and what a huge heart he had in his own quiet way. Harry just rubbed me wrong from the start and I’m not sure why. Most of the novel involves his saying or doing things that supported my less than wonderful feelings about him, but even in the beginning, I wasn’t a fan of his pompous and somewhat clueless attitude.

The Moment I Met You is certainly a love story, but it is also a story about what we give up in life and why. It’s about dreams that never got chased but were not forgotten. It’s about the universe putting two people together that were meant to get to know one another. Lastly, it’s about remembering your own happiness is as important as anyone else’s. I loved every word of this novel and devoured it an afternoon, but it is probably one I will read again. I highly recommend this one.

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

Pre-Order The Moment I Met You on Amazon!

Book Reviews, Release Blitz

Release Blitz and Review: Claimed (Willow Springs #5), by Laura Pavlov

Title: Claimed
Series: Willow Springs #5
Author: Laura Pavlov
Genre: Second Chance Romance
Release Date: January 27, 2022

Nashville’s hottest country music star. Wedding planner extraordinaire. High school sweethearts one day and complete strangers the next. 
He’s the only boy I’ve ever loved and the man I’m determined to forget. 

Ty Greene promised me forever and like a fool—I believed him.
But he skipped town with a bag of broken promises and a piece of my heart.
It’s taken time, but I’ve put myself back together and moved on.
Now Ty’s a big country music star in Nashville and I curse his name every time his song plays on the radio.
I don’t have time to dwell on the past.
I’m too busy living my best life.
I have the job of my dreams, a dating app that never disappoints, and the best friends in the world.
Hashtag thriving.
Life is good.
But now Ty is back in Willow Springs after all these years…
Acting as if nothing has changed.
His superstar status might impress everyone in town, but I’ve put him in my rearview.
And that’s exactly where I intend to keep him.

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for Laura Pavlov’s, Claimed. This is the 5th and final installment in the Willow Springs series and honestly, it is my favorite of the series. Finally, we get Ivy’s story who after five years still isn’t over her first and only love, country star Ty Greene. Instead of following their plans to go to college together, Ty took off to Nashville 5 years ago, broke Ivy’s heart, and she hasn’t spoken to him since. But now she is planning his sister’s wedding and Ty is returning any day.

Talk about chemistry! Even when they were arguing, the sparks between Ty and Ivy were out of this world. I loved his flirty charm as much as I loved his soft and serious side. I’ve always enjoyed Ivy in the other books but learned to absolutely love her now that she was the star of her own book. I never realized how funny and easy-going she was and I love being surprised about characters when I’ve been reading the entire series all along.

Even though I started this book assuming the long-lost lovers would reunite, this one had me wondering a time or two because it seemed that there were just too many obstacles between them. It was obviously frustrating at times because I would think their happily ever after had arrived only to met with another conflict, but I loved this one from beginning to end regardless.

My favorite part, however, was the two epilogues. Have the Kleenex handy for this because you will cry all kinds of happy tears! Pavlov beautifully wrapped up the series in the first epilogue and then gave us a glimpse of the characters’ futures in the second one (including everyone’s children) and I absolutely adored all of it. But I did cry a bit much, so be warned.

I highly recommend Claimed and easily rate this a 5-star read, but I strongly suggest starting at the beginning of the series with Frayed. Each of these can be read as a stand-alone but will be so much better if read in order.

*Thanks to Give Me Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!





#1 Frayed


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#2 Tangled


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#3 Charmed


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#4 Sealed


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The air shifted once we were alone. Ty stretched out his long legs, crossing them at the ankle, and then connected his hands behind his head, like he didn’t have a care in the world. His tee lifted just a bit and I tried not to let my gaze wander to the sliver of tanned abs that was on display, but I couldn’t help myself.
“So…” he said.
“So what?” I hissed, before opening my computer screen and pulling up the budget for Talia’s wedding. “Let’s get down to business.”
“Sure. Sounds good to me.”
I looked up to see him drinking me in. “Stop looking at me all smug and sex driven.”
“How does one look sex driven?” he said over his laughter.
“I don’t know, Ty. Maybe you should try looking in a mirror.”
“Come on, Ive. Stop this. Can’t we talk?”
“About the budget? Sure.” I kept my eyes trained on my screen.
He moved to his feet and came around my desk, and I swear I stopped breathing. “Fine. Let me look at the budget.” He stood behind me leaning over my chair and I squeezed my thighs together because holy hell, my lady bits do still work. Was it his scent? Was he shooting his pheromones at me or something?
“So, the total is at the bottom. Do you have issues with anything? These are the line items here,” my voice came out in a whisper, with a side of lust.
What in the hell.
You’re better than this Ivy.
“It all looks good to me.” He turned my chair, so I was facing him. “You look good. I’ve missed you something fierce.”
I narrowed my gaze and shoved back in my chair, my wheels making it easy to move away and put some much needed distance between me and the pheromone king.
“That ship has sailed, Ty. It sailed a long time ago when you disappeared from my life. So, if you don’t want to talk about the budget, then I am going to have to ask you to leave. Don’t make me call security.”
He barked out a laugh. “Why are you so nervous?”
“I’m not nervous. I’m annoyed. Can you not tell the difference, Mr. Country Star?”
He moved toward me, and his tongue swiped out and wet his bottom lip.
Halleluiah, mother of Mary, Lord have mercy, holy hell fire…this man would be the death of me.
“Have dinner with me tomorrow night. We can go to our favorite old place, Dean Taylors Steak House,” he said.
I gasped, let out a few appalled huffy breaths to make it clear that that was not happening. “You must be dreaming.”
“I do dream about you often.”
“I already have a date tomorrow. As a matter of fact, he and I are having dinner at Dean Taylors tomorrow night,” I said proudly as I moved to my feet and stepped further from him. I’d most definitely be taking Dr. Scotty up on his offer.
“Who is he?” he asked, and he looked so smug I wanted to slap the sexy right off his face.
“He’s a doctor. He’s opening his own veterinary practice here in town. It’s all very impressive.” I smiled and crossed my arms over my chest to calm my racing heart.
He moved closer. Invading my space once again. “What’s his name, Ive?”
“You smug bastard. His name is Dr. Scotty.” My back hit the wall and he was so close our noses were almost touching.
I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by his gaze.
And nothing was going according to plan.


Laura Pavlov writes sweet and sexy contemporary romance that will make you both laugh and cry. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, mom to two awesome almost-grown kids, and dog-whisperer to a couple crazy yorkies. Laura resides in Las Vegas where she is living her own happily ever after.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Every Little Secret, by Sarah Clarke

Every Little Secret,

by Sarah Clarke

Publication: HQ Digital; February 25, 2022


From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything.

**My Review**

This is the story of Marcus, Grace, and their seven-year-old daughter Kaia. Their life seems happy and idyllic until one day Marcus and Kaia are climbing a tree and Kaia falls and gets hurt. Even worse, when she gets to the hospital, she reports that her Dad pushed her. Is she confused because she has a concussion? Did Marcus really push her? After the accusation, Kaia’s behavior seems to worsen while Grace struggles over whether to believe her husband or her daughter. And an even bigger worry – what if someone finds out her secret?

This novel is told from multiple POVs and varying timelines between when Grace and Marcus first met and the present. Grace is the primary voice but it is also told from Marcus, Coco’s, and Kaia’s POV. Grace and Coco were best friends as teenagers and Marcus came into their lives after he befriended Grace’s brother, Josh. While everyone is dealing with this new family dynamic in the present, the narrators also take us back to the beginning, laying the framework for everyone’s relationships now. And honestly, at times, it became very cumbersome. I love the building of suspense, but I feel like so many flashbacks could have been condensed, thus improving the flow and the pace.

Marcus’ character development combined with the unreliable narration built a great deal of suspense and excitement into the story but I feel like more could have been with done with Grace. Or perhaps that was the point? When they are teenagers and Marcus has a crush on Coco, Grace always seems to be a blurry background image, almost like an afterthought. In adulthood, she still wasn’t a strong character, so maybe it was intentional. On the other hand, I felt that Coco was overdone, especially when I saw absolutely zero admirable or redeemable qualities in her character. Even worse, I had no sympathy for her situation. I tried, but, just no.

Anyhow, regardless of some tedious parts and some character issues, I found this to be an engaging, surprising, and somewhat addictive domestic thriller. I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future!

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

Pre-Order Every Little Secret on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Marriage Secret, by Carey Baldwin

The Marriage Secret,

by Carey Baldwin

Publication: Bookouture; February 11, 2022


He married me despite my darkest secret. But am I safe now that I know his?

From the outside, my marriage to Zach was perfect: dream home, a perfect baby girl and passionate, all-consuming love. When we met, I confessed my darkest secret to him and he never judged me for it. Instead, he vowed to always protect me whatever the cost.

But as I cradle my gorgeous baby, I have to accept that the husband who used to be my everything, has changed. At first it was little things: expecting me to keep to a strict schedule, picking out my clothes for me. Now, he controls every aspect of my life: from how much money I have, to when I leave the house and who I can see.

One fateful night, a young woman is found murdered and Zach is a potential suspect. Turning towards me, a look of warmth returning to his eyes, he swears he’s innocent, and I realize there is only one solution. If I agree to be his alibi, he will keep my secret and our daughter can grow up in a loving home. In that moment, I do what any faithful wife would do: I stand by him.

But I know deep down, only one of us will make it out of this marriage alive.

A completely unputdownable and twist-filled psychological thriller from USA Today bestselling author Carey Baldwin. Fans of The Wife Between Us, The Marriage and Gone Girl will be totally addicted to The Marriage Secret.

*My Review*

I have been sort of disappointed in thrillers lately, but The Marriage Secret was a page-turner for me and finally, I found a thriller with the surprising twists I have been looking for. Zach and Holly have a picture-perfect marriage and are getting reading for the birth of their daughter, Jolene. But instead of everything being all rainbows and butterflies, Zach is controlling and abusive – mentally and financially. Why does Holly stick it out? The day they were married she told Zach her “horrible secret” and he is holding that and custody of their newborn daughter over her head.

I’m going to start with my criticism, but there isn’t much. Zach had no chance of mental and emotional health as an adult because of the obsessive spoiling by his mother Frances. Good Lord woman, let the child live. Secondly, I was a bit thrown by the amount of money being tossed around in this book. I have known some ob/gyns throughout my lifetime and have never known any that can splurge on an $11,000 vase one day and a $30,000 wardrobe the next. But, oh well. My biggest criticism, however, is the gaslighting plot, especially with a new mother. Haven’t we seen this enough over the past few years? I get it’s always going to be present in thrillers to an extent because the main character has to have doubt, the reader needs doubt, and so on. But the non-stop gaslighting of the new moms has been overused.

What I loved about this novel is for the first time in forever, I was actually surprised by a twist! I had my mind made up for most of the novel and then it reached a point where I was starting to wonder about another character, and then bam, there it was! For months I have felt like I knew “whodunnit” about 30% into a novel so thank you Carey Baldwin for finally throwing some twists in! I also applaud Holly’s POV which made it seem that the entire universe was out to get her, as well as, the wonderful development of Zach’s character making it so easy and wonderful to absolutely despise him.

The Marriage Secret is a delicious thriller that you will not want to put down. There are certainly some expected things that come along, but this one truly surprised me and kept me on the edge of my seat.

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

Pre-Order The Marriage Secret on Amazon!

Book Blitz, Book Reviews

Release Blitz & Review: Make Me Whole (Oil Barrons #1), by Marie Johnston

Title: Make Me Whole
Series: Oil Barrons #1
Author: Marie Johnston
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2022

I had a perfect life. Schoolteacher. Married to my high school sweetheart. Little starter house that we called charming but was really just old. All I needed was the two-point-five kids and I’d be living my perfect dream. Then my husband died.

After the funeral, I had a breakdown that lasted for a month…or twelve. But now I’m reemerging, healing, finding my way. It’s time to learn who I am now, and whether or not I can fix a leaky sink. And by my side, the entire time, is my husband’s best friend, Liam. The single dad knows a thing or two about personal struggles, and about how to replace faucets.

With Liam, I feel alive again. Confident. Capable. Liam has become my best friend too. Except if my parents, my in-laws, and the rest of the town had any say, I’d stay far away from him and his bad boy reputation.

How do I admit to them what’s so hard to admit to myself? That I’m starting to look at him like he’s more than a friend. That the heat in his eyes when he looks at me is far beyond friendly. That like it or not, Liam makes me feel whole again.

**My Review**

This was my first time reading Marie Johnston and I found myself quickly drawn into this widow/best friend romance. Kennedy is still grieving the loss of her husband a few years back and his best friend/cousin Liam still constantly checks on and offers support to Kennedy. Liam is considered the black sheep of their small town where Kennedy has always been spoiled and honestly, babied, by her over-protective mother and her in-laws. When they start noticing new feelings for one another, everyone is against it, making them choose between each other or keeping the peace in their small town.

First, I enjoyed the plot because it didn’t feel as if it were something I have already read a million times. I also really appreciated the author’s character development, making me truly love Liam and truly hate Kennedy’s in-laws, Liam’s father, and often, Kennedy’s mother.

What didn’t work for me was struggling to believe some of the things that occurred, such as Kennedy losing her job. People lose loved ones every day and I realize that everyone deals with grief differently, but I felt like this was a stretch. Or she needed to be hospitalized for a while. Either way, it was a bit much. Then there was Liam’s Dad’s hatred towards him and “control” of the town. That part also felt a bit overdone and I found myself rolling my eyes several times.

Anyway, Make Me Whole is a solid romance that will leave you content and with a happy heart. This is a slow-burn romance, however, so this may not be for you if you prefer quick/insta-love romances!

*Thanks to Give Me Books for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.



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Marie Johnston writes paranormal and contemporary romance. She also works as a medical laboratory scientist and has worked as a public health microbiologist. Depending on the situation, she can be oddly unconcerned about germs or weirdly phobic. Marie’s been a volunteer EMT, a college instructor, a security guard, a phlebotomist, a hotel clerk, and a coffee pourer in a bingo hall. All fodder for a writer!! She has a husband, four kids, and even more cats.



Book Reviews

Book Review: Unmissing, by Minka Kent

Unmissing, by Minka Kent

Publication: Thomas & Mercer; February 15, 2022


A return from the past knocks a family dangerously off-balance in a novel of spiraling suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent.

Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, have the life they dreamed of: a coastal home, a promising future, and a growing family. That dream ends with a late-night knock on the door.

Weak, broken, and emaciated, it’s Luca’s first wife, Lydia. Missing for ten years, presumed dead, and very much alive, she has quite a story. Her kidnapping. A torturous confinement that should’ve ended with her dead. And finally, escape. Racked with guilt over the beautiful life they’ve built, Merritt and Luca agree to help get Lydia back on her feet—it’s the least they can do.

But the more enmeshed Lydia becomes in Merritt’s family, the more questions Merritt has. What is it about Lydia that’s especially unnerving? Why hasn’t she gone to the police with her harrowing tale? What does she really want of them? The answers, when they come, are terrifying.

Because Lydia isn’t the only one with secrets.

*My Review*

It’s been a while since I have read anything by Minka Kent and this did not disappoint! Merritt Coletto is living a dream life with her husband Luca, their young daughter Elsie, and a baby boy on the way. Then one night while Luca is out of town, a woman shows up on her doorstep claiming to be Luca’s first wife Lydia, who vanished ten years earlier and was later declared dead. Merritt, being the sweet and proper wife that she is, tries to befriend Lydia and help her all while fearing that Lydia is trying to destroy her marriage. Lucas basically does nothing, and Lydia starts seeming a little sinister.

This was so good! Unmissing had all the mystery/thriller elements that I love including unreliable narrators, plenty of seeds of doubt planted, and a roller coaster’s worth of twists and turns. Minka Kent has once again done a beautiful job of leading my mind in one direction only to shock the hell out of me further down the road (thank you very much). The characterization of both Merritt and Lydia was incredible, painting very different pictures of them from the beginning to end. I did feel that Luca’s characterization fell a little flat though. Maybe his POV could have been added to Merritt and Lydia’s to give the reader more insight into his thoughts and motivations? The only character that I struggled with was Delphine, finding her openness and kindness a bit too forthcoming, but it certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

Although I think I could discuss this book for hours, that is about all I can say without spoilers. Unmissing is a mystery/suspense thriller that I highly recommend. It has all of the wonderful tidbits suspense thriller fans love, an imaginative plot, and well-developed characters. This was absolutely a 5-star read for me.

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

Pre-Order Unmissing on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Here For You, by Nora Valters

Here For You, by Nora Valters

Publication: Inkubator Books; January 9, 2022


A fresh start… or a living hell?

Jess’s life is back on track again: the messy divorce, bitter inheritance feud, and terrifying home invasion are well and truly behind her.

After two years abroad, she is excited for a new beginning in a sleepy English seaside town where nobody knows her.

So when Jess is attacked in the street, she thinks it’s rotten luck – her troubles are firmly in the past, after all. But, as more creepy things start to happen, she becomes convinced she’s being targeted.

As the frightening events escalate, Jess is certain someone she thought she’d left behind has finally caught up with her – and they want revenge. But who? And just how far will they go to push her over the edge and into oblivion?

**My Review**

This novel begins with Jess in a new town at a new shared co-working space awkwardly introducing herself to everyone during one of their Friday night socials. As she nurses her beer, she looks around the room trying to figure out who to socialize with but is quickly saved when sweet, bubbly Ashley comes over to introduce herself. Later, the two women are drunkenly walking home, go their separate ways, and Jess is attacked. Who comes to her rescue? Ashley, of course. And the rest of the book is predictable as hell from there forward.

The main premise to this novel is the question – is Jess losing her mind or is she being gaslighted by literally everyone else in her life? Jess is a very unreliable narrator because she completely lacks any self-esteem or confidence, only shares tiny bits of her past, and later her recollections of the past don’t match those of others. So who do you believe?

Some positives of the book are the author’s character development and imagery. The way she described each character’s expression, tones, and even eye movements made the characters leap off the page. I also loved the setting and descriptions of the town down to the arcade and the yummy food Jess and Ashley would get while out and about having fun.

However, the overall novel was just a complete miss for me because it was so incredibly predictable. From about 10% in, I realized what was going on. Yes, I had to build on it as the novel progressed, but there was literally only 1 surprise throughout the novel and it was so silly and out of left field that it wasn’t an enjoyable surprise. I’m not sure what could have been better because this plot seems overdone anyway, but this lacked all of the things I love about thrillers – anticipation, surprise, questions, and twists.

I will certainly give this author another try because there were several things I enjoyed about her writing, however, Here For You is not a book that I would recommend.

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

Book Reviews

Book Review: Secrets of Our House, by Rea Frey

Secrets of Our House,

by Rea Frey

Publication: St. Martin’s Griffin; February 8, 2022

About: A thrilling domestic drama set against the power of the wilderness, Rea Frey’s Secrets of Our House is a deeply-felt novel of long-held secrets and the strength of family.

Desi is the mastermind behind her dream getaway house. Nestled high into the mountains of North Carolina, it is a sleek place, a luxurious place, a dark place.

A place full of secrets.

Secrets about the man she longs for, a man who is not her husband. Secrets about the roots of her family that must never, ever, see the light of day. When Desi and her family arrive from Chicago to spend the summer in the mountains, the seeds for the tumultuous months to follow are planted—her marriage on the rocks, not knowing which way they’ll go. Her seventeen year-old daughter Jules, falling in love for the first time with a local boy—and forging a new path that will take her to uncharted places. And Carter—a man Desi knew long ago, before she expunged him from her life for good.

All hurtling toward events none of them can undo.

Engaging, propulsive, and with a dramatic, heart-pounding final act, Secrets of Our House is a dazzling novel, richly-drawn, that shows no matter how hard outside forces may shake you, the bonds of family are stronger than the harshest winds.

**My Review**

A few weeks ago I spent much too long browsing NetGalley and ended up with a huge book haul. One of my latest downloads is Secrets of Our House, by Rea Frey. On NetGalley, this is listed under Mystery & Thrillers and Women’s Fiction, but I would just characterize this as Women’s Fiction (although there are some crazy scenes that will make your heart race). Anyway, this is about a couple, Peter and Desi, and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Jules, who are spending the summer at their amazing and incredible mountain home, The Black House. Peter and Desi have been married for twenty years and are miserable with one another, considering the summer as one last shot at their marriage. Jules is planning to start Columbia in the fall, however, she’s never felt more at home in River Falls, which is also home to the boy she is falling in love with. Other characters along the way are Desi’s freeloading brother, Tommy, and Carter, who served in the military with Tommy and Peter but is also Desi’s first love. So, a lot going on here!

First of all, Desi is an extremely unlikeable character, so prepare yourself. She is one of the most selfish characters I have encountered while reading, yet at times I felt bad for her and really wanted her to be happy. She spends most of the novel obsessing about Carter, whom she hasn’t been with in decades, while also whining and pouting because her marriage is failing. Pick a team woman! Peter is so grumpy and quiet, I don’t feel like I even got to know his character. Then there was Tommy just barging in on their summer vacation and taking up residence in their house, reminding me of cousin Eddie from National Lampoons. But the star of the novel is Jules.

Jules is getting ready to start her adult life, falling in love for the first time, and learning who she really is and wants to be. Her story is the meat of this novel and quite honestly, the main thing that kept me reading. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this novel, but without Jules, it would have been depressing and uninteresting at best. I loved everything about her and Will and was cheering for them from beginning to end. I must admit though that there were some moments involving Jules that were a bit too far-fetched for me personally, nevertheless, I loved her character.

Overall, I found this to be a page-turner. Frey painted a perfect picture of a broken and lonely marriage, the toll it takes on the entire family, and the enormous stress of changing family dynamics. With the exception of Peter, I applaud the character development. The plot was unique and had some nice surprises sprinkled throughout. This is one of those books that I curled up with a blanket on a cold day and knocked it out in just a few hours – it was that good. I highly recommend this to women’s fiction fans that like a tiny bit of thriller mixed in.

*Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Pre-Order Secrets of Our House on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Ones We Keep, by Bobbie Jean Huff

The Ones We Keep,

by Bobbie Jean Huff

Publication: Sourcebooks Landmark; January 18, 2022


An emotional debut for fans of Elizabeth Strout and Diane Chamberlain, The Ones We Keep follows the splintered lives of four family members in the years following an unthinkable tragedy, and the choices they must make to find their way back to each other.

One family. One tragedy. One incredible decision to change their fate.

A quiet lakeside resort in Vermont seems like the perfect summer getaway for Olivia and Harry Somerville and their three young boys. But in a single moment, their idyllic family retreat becomes a mother’s worst nightmare. Returning from a solo hike one afternoon, Olivia learns from a passing stranger that one of her sons has drowned—but not which one.

In that moment, Olivia makes a panicked decision that will change her family forever.

If she never knows which son has drowned, can Olivia convince herself that none of them have? By shielding herself from reality, can she continue to live in a world where all three boys are still alive?

An emotional and heartfelt meditation on the nature of loss, the gift of recovery, and the bonds of love, The Ones We Keep tells the story of one family as they learn to face their grief and fight for hope.

**My Review**

Wow, I am struggling with the right words to describe my feelings about this book. I easily give this a 5-star rating, but I’m also conflicted about everything from beginning to end. Olivia, her husband Harry, and their three young sons – Brian Andrew, and Rory go to Vermont for vacation in 1971. Harry has tennis games scheduled one day when Olivia wants to go on a hike so they arrange for childcare for the boys. Olivia stops on a rock for lunch, falls asleep, and is very late getting back. When she is almost back to the resort she learns from two teenage girls that a young boy from New Jersey has drowned. Rather than face which of her children drowned while she was gone, Olivia chooses to disappear and create a new life which includes the daily mantra, “I have three sons.”

First of all, kudos to Bobbie Jean Huff for publishing her debut novel at 76!

But secondly, what the hell? Any reader that is a mother will struggle with this novel because of her decision to abandon her family rather than face which one died. She and Harry had a wonderful and healthy relationship, which I feel, would have survived this terrible loss. Brian, the oldest goes on to struggle with alcoholism and relationships his entire life, always feeling the loss of his mother. The youngest, Rory goes on to lead a successful and happy life, perhaps because of his young age and the mother-figure that was placed into his life shortly after Olivia’s disappearance. Olivia, on the other hand, goes on to lead a life of quiet solitude, slowly losing all recall of her previous life, including the birthdates of her children and her own birthday. Therefore, for the majority of this novel, I kept asking myself, “how and why is this woman doing this?”

My rating of this novel is not based on Olivia herself, but the writing. Despite being one of the saddest things I have read in my lifetime, I have nothing but awe and respect for Huff’s writing style, imagery, and character development. This book reads as if one of the greatest literary minds of our time has written it. Be prepared to feel the pain of every character and recognize the sounds, sights, and smells that are frequently mentioned. There is absolutely nothing negative that I can come up with about the writing at all.

Now, let me explain that this novel also frustrated the living hell out of me. Besides struggling with Olivia’s original decision to flee when she learned that one of her sons had drowned, the ending was just about my undoing. So much suspense was built and then the way it abruptly ended had me spewing so many four-letter words I felt I needed to go to church and beg for forgiveness. I cannot stand ambiguous endings like this one because I crave drama and a concrete resolution. Nevertheless, I can’t recall a book that conjured so many different emotions and made me stop and think so many times, wondering what I would do differently, or exactly as she did.

This novel is beyond amazing. Was I left feeling happy and uplifted? Good Lord, no! But I feel lucky to have read this author’s incredible work.

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