Blog Tour: Jigsaw Man By Nadine Matheson

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all info and graphics.

THE JIGSAW MAN

Author: Nadine Matheson

ISBN: 9781335146564

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Book Summary:

In THE JIGSAW MAN (March 16, 2021; Hanover Square Press), Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley has a lot to deal with on her first day back her from leave from the Serial Crimes Unit of Scotland Yard. After nearly becoming a victim of the vicious serial killer, The Jigsaw Man, just before he was put behind bars, she also has to contend with the subtle digs and microaggressions that come with being the unit’s only black female detective. Add a new trainee and a rocky marriage to the mix, and DI Henley nearly has a full plate. Until the first call comes in…

Along the Thames, a fan of the Jigsaw Man and copycat killer has scattered two dismembered bodies along the shores like a jigsaw puzzle. When DI Henley sees one of the victims, a young black woman, is already being written off by her colleagues, she makes it her mission to solve the case, driving her to seek help from the original Jigsaw Man himself, Peter Oliver. Oliver, however, is determined to get to his copycat before Henley can, and sets into motion a series of events that puts Henley and her family in the crosshairs of two monstrous serial killers. 

Review

I really enjoyed this twisted serial killer tale that while at times familiar was so filled with action that I flew through this book. The Jigsaw Man starts out with various people finding body parts around Scotland and this gruesome story builds from there. I really enjoyed the investigation of the murders and how we slowly unfolded a possible motive and had a suspect list. Matheson did a great job of creating a very believable world and taking us into the mind of a serial killer. There is a full team of investigators that are trying to solve this crime and I really enjoyed what they all brought to the story. We do follow one main character, DI Henley, for most of the story and as the story progresses we get to know the many elements of her life including her having to work with the Jigsaw Man who she previously tangled with to solve these new sets of crime.

DI Henley is a tough and no nonsense woman but she has way too much going on in her life. I love a complicated and complex hero but there were times when our main story really started to suffer from the constant drama going on in Henley’s life. I know that this is a first book in the Anjelica Henley series but I really wish that Matheson had held some stuff back for future books because it really lessened my enjoyment of the story with the constant interruptions of her overly dramatic life. I really feel like this could have been a five star read for me if the story was more streamlined and focused. This is an own voices story and I really appreciated what that brought to the story. When some of Henley’s challenges were because she was a woman of color those incidents brought a layer of heartbreaking credibility to the book.

I’m excited that this is the first book in a crime thriller series because I really connected with the characters and I look forward to seeing what happens to them in future books. I also really enjoyed how dark and graphic this book was. It doesn’t hold back when it comes to the depravity so if you are someone that enjoys dark crime procedurals then I really think this is a book that you should pick up.

Author Bio: Nadine Matheson is a criminal defense attorney and winner of the City University Crime Writing competition. She lives in London, UK.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @NadineMatheson

Facebook: @NadineMathesonWriter

Instagram: @QueenNads

Goodreads

Excerpt

Chapter Two

‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call. 

‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’

‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.

‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.

‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’

‘There’s always one.’

The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.

‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’

‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’

‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.

‘To meet Eastwood.’

‘And you want to walk it?’

Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.

‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.

The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.

‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.

‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’

‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’

‘You know this area well?’

Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’

‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’

‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.

‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’

‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.

‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.

Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.

‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’

Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.

‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.

‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.

Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.

‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’

‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’

‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’

‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’

‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’

‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.

‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’

‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’

‘Exactly.’

Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.

‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.

‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’

Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.

‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.

‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.

‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.

‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.

‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’

‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’

Excerpted from The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson, Copyright © 2021 by Nadine Matheson

Published by Hanover Square Press

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Danger In Numbers By Heather Graham

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all info and graphics.

DANGER IN NUMBERS

Author: Heather Graham

ISBN: 9780778331452

Publication Date: March 23, 2021

Publisher: MIRA Books

Book Summary:

This Spring, Heather Graham returns with a sultry and shocking standalone thriller about an FBI special agent trying to run from his past and a state police agent bent on solving a horrifying crime, even if it leads the two of them into the web of a vicious cult. Graham deepens the intrigue and raises the stakes in DANGER IN NUMBERS (MIRA Hardcover; March 23, 2021; $27.99).

On the edge of the Everglades, a brutal murder and an eerie crime scene set off an investigation that sends two agents deep into a world of corrupted faith, greed and deadly secrets.

A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.

The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.

Review

As someone who is fascinated by cults this book was perfect for me. It is a very engrossing romantic suspense but the core of the book is really about the history and psychology of cults. Graham did an incredible job balancing all the different aspects of the story and I basically read this book in one sitting. Amy and Hunter were both strong and intelligent characters and I enjoyed the way they worked together. The murders they are trying to solve are graphic and extremely grotesque so please be aware of that before going into this book. The way the case unfolded was mesmerizing and I throughly enjoyed solving this case alongside Hunter and Amy. Everything that happened built up to something else and the ending had me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, particularly a good crime novel. I have always shied away from Heather Graham in the past because I wasn’t sure that romantic suspense was my genre but this book was so clever and well done that I will definitely be trying out more from her in the future.

Author Bio: 

Heather Graham is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author has written over two hundred novels and novellas, has been published in approximately twenty-five languages and with about 60 million books sold in print in the categories of romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. For more information, visit her at TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com.


Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @HeatherGraham

Instagram: @TheOriginalHeatherGraham

Facebook: @HeatherGrahamAuthor

Goodreads

Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Fall 1993

Sam

Sam Gallagher stood in the forest, deep within the trees, holding his wife and son to him as closely as he could, barely daring to breathe.

They would know by now. He and Jessie would be missed. He could imagine the scene: Jessie wouldn’t have appeared bright and early to help prepare the day’s meal with the other women. He wouldn’t be there to consume the porridge and water that was considered the ultimate meal for the workday—the porridge because it was a hearty meal, the water because it was ordained as the gift of life.

Their absence would be reported to Brother William, sitting his office—his throne room, Sam thought—where he would be guarded by his closest associates, the deacons of his church.

The family had only been in woods for a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Jessie was so still Sam couldn’t hear her breathing, just feel the tremor of her heart.

Cameron was just six. And yet he knew the severity and danger of his situation. He stood as still and silent as any man could hope a child might be.

Panic seized Sam briefly.

What if Special Agent Dawson didn’t come? What if there had been a mix-up and he hadn’t been able to arrange for the Marshals Service to help?

What if they were found?

Stupid question. He knew the what if.

He gritted his teeth and fought against the fear that had washed over him like a tidal wave. Dawson was a good man; Sam knew he would keep his word. He’d arrived at the commune undercover, having the intuition to realize Sam’s feelings, his doubt, and his fear for his wife and his son. Together, Dawson had told him, they would bring down the Keepers of the Earth. His actions would free others. No, their actions would free others.

Today was the day. Just in time. Sam had known the danger of remaining, felt the way he was being watched by the Divine Leader’s henchmen.

They had to leave. Leave? No, there was no leaving the compound. There was only escaping.

Alana Fisk had wanted to leave, and they knew what had happened to her.

It had been Cameron who had found his beloved “aunt” Al- ana’s body at the bottom of the gorge, broken, lying beneath just inches of dry dust and rock, decomposing in her shallow grave. It had been Cameron, so young, who had become wary and suspicious first. He’d seen a few of the older boys in the area when he’d last seen Alana there, and he didn’t trust them. They were scary, Cameron said.

Sam tightened his hold on Cameron. Seconds ticked by like an eternity.

Sam closed his eyes and wondered how they had come to this, but he knew.

He and his wife had wanted something different. A life where riches didn’t make a man cruel.

Jessie hadn’t hated her father; she had hated what he stood for. And Sam knew the day when her mind had been made up. Downtown Los Angeles. They had seen a veteran of the Vietnam War, homeless, slunk against a wall. Only one of his legs remained; he had been struggling with his prosthetic, his cup for donations at his side. The homeless veteran had looked at Jessie’s father and said, “Please, sir, help if you can.”

Peter Wilson had walked right by. When Jessie had caught her father’s arm, he had turned on her angrily. “I didn’t get where I am by giving away my hard-earned money. He’s prob- ably lying about being a vet. He can get himself a damned job doing something!”

Sam had been walking behind them. Embarrassed, he tried to offer Jessie a weak smile. He hadn’t come from money, and he had lost his folks right after his twentieth birthday, but he was working in a coffee shop, dreaming he’d get to where he could work, go to college and have time left over to be with the woman he loved.

He had given the man a dollar and wished him well. Jessie had turned away from her father.

It was the last time Jessie saw her father. Despite the man’s efforts to break her and Sam up—or because of them—Jessie and Sam had eloped. The plan was to both get jobs and finish college through night school. Her father had suspected her pregnancy; he’d wanted her to get over Sam and terminate the baby.

Jessie quickly made friends at a park near their cheap apartment. They were old f lower children, she had told Sam. Old hippies, he’d liked to tease in return. But those friends had been happy, and they’d talked to Jessie about the beauty of their commune, far from the crazy greed and speed of the city.

In the beginning, Brother William’s commune did seem to offer it all: happiness, unity, love and light.

But now they knew the truth.

Brother William—with his “deacons,” his demands on his “flock” and the cache of arms he kept stowed away as he created his empire, demanding absolute power for himself, complete obedience among his followers. And it became clear Brother William’s will was enforced; he had those deacons—Brothers Colin, Anthony and Darryl, and the squad beneath them. They received special treatment.

Sam clutched his family as he strained to hear any unfamiliar sound in the woods. Was that footsteps? Was the rustling of branches just the breeze?

He had to stop dwelling on fear.

He had to stay strong. Maybe not ruminate on what they’d been through.

But there was nothing else to do while they waited, barely breathing.

Think back, remember it all.

Excerpted from Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham, Copyright © 2021 by Heather Graham Pozzessere Published by MIRA Books

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Her Dark Lies By J.T. Ellison

Thank you to Mira for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all info and graphics.

Her Dark Lies

J.T. Ellison

On Sale Date: March 9, 2021

9780778388302, 0778388301

Trade Paperback

$16.99 USD, $21.99 CAD

Fiction / Thrillers / Domestic

416 pages

About the Book:

Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.
Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.
From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.
Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

Review

This was a fun, well built story based on my favorite trope, the locked room mystery. The past of our bride and groom are the real focal point of this story but the destination of the opulent island added an intense level of urgency and suspense. As with any good locked room mystery we are never sure who we can trust and what their true motives are. The pacing of this book is impeccably done. Her Dark Lies starts out with a shocking event and while the action keeps coming the ending is still explosive and frantic. Ellison did a stunning job with this story and blending the suspense with the entertainment factor. The way the reveals are done in this book are brilliant because there is no huge build up to them. They just happen organically throughout the story and so they added to the story rather than hindered it. With the suspense factor we obviously have to wait for some things but in the meantime we were treated to a lot of unexpected twists and turns. I also love that almost every chapter has a little statement or word to describe what is going to be happening and that really sucked me. It made this book so hard to put down and I think it would be a great afternoon or weekend read. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting. If you already a fan of mysteries, particularly locked room ones, then I think this would be an enjoyable read for you. If you are someone who doesn’t read mysteries that often then I still recommend this book for the fast paced and engaging aspect of it. I’m already eagerly anticipating Ellison’s next book because she just seems to get better and better with each one.

About the Author:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary TV show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Social Links:

Website: https://www.jtellison.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTEllison14/

Twitter:  https://www.facebook.com/JTEllison14/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thrillerchick 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/jtellison 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jtellison 

Bookbub: https://www.instagram.com/thrillerchick 

Mailing List: https://www.jtellison.com/subscribe 

Excerpt

1

Beginnings and Endings

She is going to die tonight.

The white dress, long and filmy, hampers her effort to run. The hem catches on a branch; a large rend in the fabric slashes open, exposing her leg. A deep cut blooms red along her thigh, and the blood runs down her calf. Her hair has come loose from its braid, flies unbound behind her like gossamer wings.

In her panic, she barely notices the pain.

The path ahead is marked by towering cypress and laurel, verdant and lush. A gray stone waist-high wall is all that stands between her and the cliffside. It is cool inside this miniature forest; the sky is blotted out by the purple-throated wisteria that drapes across and between the trees. Someone, years ago, built an archway along the arbor. The arch’s skeleton has long since rotted away and the flowers droop into the path, clinging trails and vines that brush against her head and shoulders. It should be beautiful; instead it feels oppressive, as if the vines might animate, twist and curl around her neck and strangle her to death.

She tries not to look down to the frothing water roiling against the rocks at the cliff’s base. She thinks the ruins are to her right. From what she remembers, they are between the church and the artists’ colony, the four cottages cowering on the hillside, empty and waiting.

A horn shrieks, and she realizes the ferry is pulling away. A crack of lightning, and she sees the silhouette of the captain in the pilothouse, looking out to the turbulent seas ahead. A gamble that he makes it before the storm is upon them.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Where is the church?

There it is, a flash of white through the trees. The stuccoed walls loom, the bell tower hidden behind the overgrown foliage. Now the path is moving upward, the grade increasing. She feels it in her calves and hopes again she is going the right way. The Villa is on the hill, on the northwest promontory of the island. If she can reach its doors, she will be safe.

It is too quiet. There are no birds, no creatures, no buzzing or cries, just her ragged, heavy breath and the scree shuffling underfoot as she climbs. The furious roar of the water smashing its frustration against the rocks rises from her left, echoing against the cliffside.

The dogs begin to howl.

Climb. Climb. Keep going.

She must get to the Villa. There she can call for help. Lock herself inside. Maybe find a weapon.

A branch snaps and she halts, breathless.

Someone is coming.

She startles like a deer, now heedless of the noise she’s making. Fighting back a whimper of fear, she breaks free of the cloistered path to see an old decrepit staircase cut into the stone. Careful, she must be cautious, there are gaps where some steps are missing, and the rest are mossy with disuse, but hurry, hurry. Get away.

She winds up the steps, clinging to the rock face, until she bursts free into a sea of scrubby pines. Two sculptures, Janus twins, flank a slate-dark path into a labyrinth of rhododendron and azalea.

This isn’t right. Where is she?

A hard breeze disrupts the trees around her, and a rumble of thunder like a thousand drums rolls across her body. Lightning flashes and she sees the Villa in the distance. So far away. On the other side of the labyrinth. The other side of the hill.

She’s gone the wrong way.

A droplet of water hits her arm, then her forehead. Dread bubbles through her.

She is too late. The storm is upon her.

The howls of the dogs draw closer. The wind whistles hard and sharp, buffeting her against the stone wall. She can’t move, deep fear cementing her feet. Rain makes the gauzy dress cling to the curves of her body, and the blood on her thigh washes to the ground. None of it matters. She cannot escape.

When he comes, at last, sauntering through the storm, the barking beasts leaping and growling beside him, she is crying, clinging to the wall, the lightning illuminating the ruins; the ancient stones and stark, headless statues the only witness to her death.

She goes over the wall with a thunder-drowned scream, the jagged rocks below her final companions.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Running Away with the Bride by Sophia Singh Sasson

Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all info and graphics for this post.

Book Description: 

Stop the wedding! Steal the bride! And fall for a perfect stranger?

Billionaire Ethan Connors vows to stop his ex’s wedding so they can be together. But crashing the wrong nuptials and spiriting away the wrong wife-to-be is more than he bargained for! Divya Singh is beautiful, talented, passionate…and from a traditional Indian family who won’t accept him as a match for their daughter. Can Divya and Ethan’s unexpected relationship stay the course or will one of them run again?

Price: $5.25

ON-sale date: 01/01/2021

ISBN: 9781335232670

Review

This is a fun, sexy, heartwarming story about love and family. Both Divya and Ethan come from close knit families and I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of how the Indian and American culture impacted and formed their families. The way that Ethan and Divya meet is one of my favorite meet cute moments in a book and it really set the tone for the adventures that awaited them. Ethan and Divya are attracted to each other but they really build a solid friendship and are completely open emotionally together which just solidified my connection to both of them. The pacing of this book is perfect and it allowed for a lot of quiet moments in between all the action. To me this worked really well because it made the sweeter moments more impactful and added a lot of credibility to the romance. My only critique of this story was that it is a contemporary romance that is set in a world where the pandemic happened and is now over. Reading is a source of escapism especially in these crazy times and I didn’t like being reminded of what is going on the world when I was trying to get lost in a sweet and fun romance. Sasson is a great writer and I’m looking forward to reading her other works.

Author Bio: Sophia puts her childhood habit of daydreaming to good use by writing stories that will give you hope, make you laugh, cry and possibly snort tea from your nose. She was born in Mumbai, India, and has lived in the Canary Islands, Spain and Toronto, Canada. Currently she calls the madness of Washington, DC, home. She loves to read, travel to exotic locations, bake, scuba dive and watch Bollywood movies. Contact her through http://SophiaSasson.com.

Author Links:

Excerpt

Excerpt for RUNNING AWAY WITH THE BRIDE by Sophia Singh Sasson

“Stop this wedding!”

Ethan Connors searched the stage on the back lawn of the Mahal Hotel where a mandap had been set up. The couple was seated on floor-level settees under a pergola-like structure in front of a small fire. A priest dressed in loose orange clothing chanted and threw things into the fire, making it crackle and smoke.

Ethan wished he’d paid more attention to the wedding sequence the one time he’d been to an Indian wedding with Pooja. He had no idea if he’d made it in time to stop hers.

At his outcry, the bride, groom and the dozen or so people surrounding them looked at him with surprise. The priest froze and the chatter of the crowd behind Ethan died. He could feel the stares of hundreds of guests on him. He tried to catch Pooja’s eyes but the heavy bridal veil covered her head and fell halfway across her face. The smoke from the fire swirled around her. He looked at the older Indian couple seated next to her. Were they Pooja’s parents? If the glare they were shooting him was any indication, they were.

A knot twisted in his stomach. After six months of dating, including three months of living together, she’d never introduced him to her parents, and he couldn’t pick them out based on the pictures he’d seen on her bookshelf.

A younger man seated next to the bride stood and made his way to Ethan. “I don’t know who you are but you’re interrupting my sister’s wedding. You best leave quietly before I call security.” The man’s voice was low and icy.

But Ethan was determined he wasn’t going to lose her again. He may have come to his senses in the eleventh hour, but he was going to save himself, and Pooja. She’d known the guy sitting next to her for three months. How could she marry him? I want to know my husband and be sure that we’re compatible, she’d said to Ethan. He and Pooja were compatible. Why hadn’t he seen that sooner? When she’d first brought up marriage—and how her family wouldn’t approve of her relationship with a white Midwesterner unless he put a ring on her finger—he’d thought he needed more time to figure things out. But what was left to think about? He was pushing forty. His brother was ten years younger and had been married for nine years and had two kids. Pooja was the only woman who had deemed him worthy enough to even discuss marriage. He wasn’t going to let her get away a second time.

Pooja was now standing, but Ethan still couldn’t get a clear line of sight through the crowd that was gathering around him. He hadn’t spoken to her since she walked out three months ago, but she’d sent him an email telling him she was getting married today. Why would she do that if she didn’t want him to make a grand gesture? It would’ve been helpful if she’d sent him some details other than that her groom was planning “a grand baarat down the Vegas strip.” He’d spent the entire morning driving up and down the strip, looking for a groom on a horse surrounded by a bunch of people dancing. The traditional Indian baarat, the arrival of the groom’s party, would be hard to miss, or so he thought. He’d been on the other side of the strip when he’d heard on the radio that traffic was snarled because of an Indian wedding, and he’d driven like a madman to get there.

He had charged in ready to take on the world, or at least a bunch of angry relatives, but now doubt snaked its way through him. Did Pooja really want him to rescue her? And how the hell was he going to get out of the hotel without hundreds of guests and hotel security guards stopping him?

Take off your veil and look at me, Pooja. He wanted to tell her that she didn’t have to succumb to her parents’ pressure and marry whichever Tom, Dick or Hari they had found for her. He was ready to step up and make a commitment. 

Another man who bore a family resemblance to the one who’d identified himself as Pooja’s brother broke through the crowd and strode toward him. Who knew how many family members there were, and Ethan had zero backup. When will you stop being so impulsive? His mother’s familiar recrimination blared in his head.

He focused on Pooja, who was clearly looking in his direction, despite the veil on her face. “I’m sorry I was such an ass and didn’t realize how much you meant to me. I want to marry you. Run away with me.” Brother One whispered something into a phone, no doubt calling security. “We must go now!”

“Yo dude, this isn’t some Hollywood film. What do you think you’re doing?” Brother Number Two was now within punching distance and didn’t seem quite as reserved as Brother One. “My sister doesn’t know who you are. Get out before I…” He pulled his arm back, clearly preparing to punch Ethan in the face.

“Wait!” Pooja’s voice sounded strange.

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~Cassie

Blog Tour: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg

Thank you to Harlequin for providing all info and graphics for this post. They also kindly provided an ARC and my review will be up in a few days.

MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER

Author: T.A. Willberg

ISBN: 9780778389330

Publication Date: 12/29/20

Publisher: Harlequin / Park Row Books

Book Summary:

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see―her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective.

Author Bio: T.A. Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and holds a chiropractic masters degree from Durban University of Technology. MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is her debut novel and launch of her detective series. She currently lives in Malta with her partner.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @Tess_Amy_

Facebook: @tawillberg

Instagram: @ta_willberg

Excerpt

THE SECRET STEALER

Somewhere in London
Friday, April 11, 1958
11:40 p.m.

Envelope encased, the carrier cylinder traveled through miles of pneumatic pipes from its place of origin to the dark, deep dungeon of the Filing Department—falling neatly from the end of the pipe and into the corresponding receiver box, as if by some magical, invisible postman.

A bell chimed as the envelope landed in receiver box fifty-five.

Michelle White’s eyes shot open as she lurched back from the edge of sleep. She blinked at the flashing yellow light on the noticeboard above her. It was her job to ensure all letters were sorted out the minute they arrived: those that met agency requirements were to be organized by date and slipped into the Inquirers’ in-box for later investigation. Those that did not went straight into the rubbish bin, and those of which she was unsure what to do with, into a looming pile on the desk. But crime and crookedness had been on the decline the last few weeks in London and so, assuming the letter would be a lead on something petty, Michelle White staggered across the Filing Department in no particular hurry.

She lifted the lid on receiver box fifty-five, the endpoint of a six-mile pneumatic tube that fed off from a letter case hidden in Passing Alley in Farringdon.

Envelopes and letters pulled from the receiver boxes were usually addressed to the agency in general: Dear people under the ground, or similar.

But tonight was different.

To Miss M. White, Inquirer.

It was odd, yet she couldn’t help smile at the thought of it. Michelle had once dreamed of becoming an Inquirer; she had come so close to the reality, too. But she was just not good enough. Not clever enough, not brave or talented enough. Not quite anything enough.

Ten years ago, at the age of twenty-two, she’d been recruited from a textile factory where she’d toiled long hours as a quality control assistant. But like everyone who came to work in the sunless labyrinth, Michelle had swiftly and without much consideration renounced the liberties of her previous, lackluster life in exchange for the opportunity to begin a new and thrilling vocation as an Inquirer, where she’d hoped to finally make use of her very particular set of skills.

But things had not quite turned out that way, which is why—instead of scouring London’s streets for criminals and delinquents—Michelle had ended up here, spending her evenings as the night-duty filing assistant in the establishment’s dullest department. In fact, had it not been for her other, far more satisfying role—that of Border Guard, protector of the secret—then perhaps she would have quit years ago.

But now Michelle wondered, as she stared at the envelope in her hand, how whoever had sent it knew where she worked or why they had considered her the worthy counsel of their troubles. She ran her thumb over the words—Miss M. White, Inquirer—as if they might be absorbed through her skin and become true.

For a moment, she was reluctant to open the envelope, concerned it might be a joke. One of the young apprentices playing a trick. She clenched her jaw at the thought, breathed, then entered the letter’s details into the register file: time and date received, receiver box number and her initials. But when she opened the envelope and read the final detail—the nature of the inquiry—her breath began to quicken.

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place and one simple revelation. And yet it unleashed a torrent of angst.

Several weeks ago, something had gone missing from her handbag—something invaluable, irreplaceable, something that might dredge up a secret long since buried across the Border. At first she’d been so certain of who had taken it, and for countless nights thereafter she’d turned in her sleep, anxious the nasty thief would soon come looking for the paired device she kept locked in her private office, and with that the secret would be uncovered.

But if the letter she’d just received was to be trusted, Michelle’s anxieties had been misplaced—the secret had already been discovered. She wasn’t sure how, or even why, but if she followed the letter’s directions, she might soon find out.

Though sirens of warning blared in her head, Michelle had already made up her mind. Of course she could take the letter to someone more qualified than herself, but it had been addressed to her—whoever had sent it had entrusted her with this, a most precious and urgent secret. And besides, as the letter had said, if only for tonight, Miss White was an Inquirer.

As instructed, she lit a match and held the letter under the flame. Once the paper had turned to ash, she packed up her things, grabbed her handbag, locked the office and rushed up the staircase toward the library. She stopped at the lock room gate, far on the other side of the grand hall of glorious bookshelves. The gate was ajar, just as she’d expected.

She stepped inside, pausing immediately as a wave of something cool and cutting passed in front of her, a curious thing. She rubbed her eyes and looked around the dully lit room, at the hundreds of steel drawers, safes in which were kept the agency’s most hallowed files and documents. The lock room, with its thick walls and high ceiling, was always chilled, but tonight it felt particularly so.

Crack.

Something split from the wall behind her. She turned to the sound but saw only a shadow move across the room and something that looked like a large black box being removed from inside the wall. She hesitated, then moved a little closer. But it came again—a wave of cool air, dancing in front of her. She dabbed her eyes with the cuff of her sleeve; they were now surely playing tricks on her, for everything had turned to a strange blur of nothing. Michelle started to panic, her thoughts as unfocused as her eyesight. Her head began to spin. Her limbs to tingle. This might have been the moment she ran for her life, out of the lock room and away from the evil she now knew had been waiting for her there. But terror had immobilized her. There was nothing she could do to get her legs to move, not even when she heard the rush of footsteps, some behind her, some in front. Not even when she felt the brush of air against her neck.

“What’s happening,” she asked in a staggered groan. “I know you’re there…I know it was you…” She trailed off, the words in her head no longer making sense.

She dropped her handbag. Something hard rolled out and across the floor. She was too disorientated to realize what it was.

In a drawn-out moment that seemed to last forever, Michelle’s senses grew dull and viscous. She could no longer trust her eyesight, her ears. She might have seen an amorphous shape crouching in front of her. She might have seen it lift something from the floor. Certainly, however, she felt the sharp burn of a cold, ragged blade as it sunk quickly and easily through the delicate skin across her throat.

Warmth, darkness and nothing more.

Excerpted from Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder @ 2020 by Tessa Gukelberger, used with permission by Park Row Books/HarperCollins.

Buy Links: 

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~Cassie

Blog Tour: Wrong Alibi By Christina Dodd

Thank you to Harlequin for providing all info and graphics for this post.

WRONG ALIBI 

Author: Christina Dodd 

ISBN: 9781335080820

Publication Date: December 29, 2020

BOOK SUMMARY: 

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam

BIO: 

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

SOCIAL:

Author Website: https://www.christinadodd.com/ 

TWITTER: @ChristinaDodd

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDoddFans 

Insta: @ChristinaDoddBooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12695.Christina_Dodd

Excerpt

Chapter 1 

ALASKA

 Midnight Sun Fishing Camp 

Katchabiggie Lodge

 Eight years ago

JANUARY. 

Five and a half hours a day when the sun rose above the horizon. 

Storm clouds so thick, daylight never penetrated, and night reigned eternal. 

Thirty below zero Fahrenheit. 

The hurricane-force wind wrapped frigid temperatures around the lodge, driving through the log cabin construction and the steel roof, ignoring the insulation, creeping inch by inch into the Great Room where twenty-year-old Petie huddled on a love seat, dressed in a former guest’s flannel pajamas and bundled in a Pendleton Northern Lights wool blanket. A wind like this pushed snow through the roof vents, and she knew as soon as the storm stopped, she’d be up in the attic shoveling it out.

 Or not. Maybe first the ceiling would fall in on top of her.

 Who would know? Who would care? 

The storm of the century, online news called it, before the internet disappeared in a blast that blew out the cable like a candle. 

For a second long, dark winter, she was the only living being tending the Midnight Sun cabins and the lodge, making sure the dark, relentless Alaska winter didn’t do too much damage and in the spring the camp could open to enthusiastic fishermen, corporate team builders and rugged individualists. 

Alone for eight months of the year. No Christmas. No New Year’s. No Valentine’s Day. No any day, nothing interesting, just dark dark dark isolation and fear that she would die out here.

 With the internet gone, she waited for the next inevitable event. 

The lights went out.

 On each of the four walls, a small, battery-charged nightlight came on to battle feebly against the darkness. Outside, the storm roared. Inside, cold swallowed the heat with greedy appetite.

 Petie sat and stared into a dark so black it hurt her eyes. And remembered…

 There, against the far back wall of the basement, in the darkest corner, white plastic covered…something. Slowly, Petie approached, driven by a terrible fear. She stopped about three feet away, leaned forward and reached out, far out, to grasp the corner of the plastic, pull it back, and see— 

With a gasp, Petie leaped to her feet. 

No. Just no. She couldn’t—wouldn’t—replay those memories again. 

She tossed the blanket onto the floor and groped for the flashlights on the table beside her: the big metal one with a hefty weight and the smaller plastic headlamp she could strap to her forehead. She clicked on the big one and shone it around the lodge, reassuring herself no one and nothing was here. No ghosts, no zombies, no cruel people making ruthless judgments about the gullible young woman she had been. 

Armed with both lights, she moved purposefully out of the Great Room, through the massive kitchen and toward the utility room. 

The door between the kitchen and the utility room was insulated, the first barrier between the lodge and the bitter, rattling winds. She opened that door, took a breath of the even chillier air, stepped into the utility room and shut herself in. There she donned socks, boots, ski pants, an insulated shirt, a cold-weather blanket cut with arm holes, a knit hat and an ancient, full-length, seal-skin, Aleut-made coat with a hood. She checked the outside temperature. 

Colder now—forty below and with the wind howling, the wind chill would be sixty below, seventy below…who knew? Who cared? Exposed skin froze in extreme cold and add the wind chill… She wrapped a scarf around her face and the back of her neck. Then unwrapped it to secure the headlamp low on her forehead. Then wrapped herself up again, trying to cover as much skin as she could before she faced the punishing weather. 

She pointed her big flashlight at the generator checklist posted on the wall and read:

 Hawley’s reasons why the generator will fail to start. The generator is new and well-tested, so the problem is: 

  1. LOOSE BATTERY CABLE

 Solution: Tighten. 

  1. CORRODED BATTERY CONNECTION 

Solution: Use metal terminal battery brush to clean connections and reattach.

  1. DEAD BATTERY

 Solution: Change battery in the autumn to avoid ever having to change it in the middle of a major fucking winter storm.

If she wasn’t standing there alone in the dark in the bitter cold, she would have grinned. The owner of the fishing camp, Hawley Foggo, taught his employees Hawley’s Rules. He had them for every occurrence of the fishing camp, and that last sounded exactly like him. 

The generator used a car battery, and as instructed, in the autumn she had changed it. This was her second year dealing with the battery, and she felt secure about her work. 

So probably this failure was a loose connection or corrosion. Either way, she could fix it and save the lodge from turning into a solid ice cube that wouldn’t thaw until spring. 

That was, after all, her job. 

She shivered. 

So much better than her last job, the one that led to her conviction for a gruesome double murder.

 “Okay, Petie, let’s grab that metal battery cleaner thingy and get the job done.” Which sounded pretty easy, when she talked to herself about it, but when she pulled on the insulated ski gloves, they limited her dexterity. 

Out of the corner of her eye, a light blinked out. 

She looked back into the lodge’s Great Room. The nightlights were failing, and soon she really would be alone in the absolute darkness, facing the memories of that long-ago day in the basement. 

Good incentive to hurry. 

She grabbed the wire battery connection cleaner thingy and moved to the outer door. 

There she paused and pictured the outdoor layout.

 A loosely built lean-to protected the generator from the worst of the weather while allowing the exhaust to escape. That meant she wasn’t stepping out into the full force of the storm; she would be as protected as the generator itself. Which was apparently not well enough since the damned thing wasn’t working.

 She gathered her fortitude and eased the outer door open. 

The wind caught it, yanked it wide and dragged her outside and down the steps. She hung on to the door handle, flailed around on the frozen ground, and when she regained her footing, she used all her strength to shove the door closed again. 

Then she was alone, outside, in a killer storm, in the massive, bleak wilderness that was Alaska.

Excerpted from Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd Copyright © Christina Dodd. Published by HQN Books.

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~Cassie

Blog Tour: The Last To See Her By Courtney Evan Tate

Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all graphics and info.

THE LAST TO SEE HER

Author: Courtney Evan Tate

ISBN: 9780778309413

Publication Date: December 15, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

Book Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Evan Tate’s The Last to See Her (MIRA; 12/29) is a twisty, fast-paced domestic suspense about sisters, secrets and betrayal–for fans of B.A. Paris and Riley Sager.

Genevieve, a writer, is about to finalize her divorce from her cheating husband Todd. So when her sister Meg, an ambitious physician, has a convention to attend in New York City, she invites Gen along to celebrate her return to single life. It will be a perfect sisters’ getaway in the big city! But things go awry when, on their first evening at the hotel, Gen decides to take a late night walk and disappears without a trace. Eventually she is officially declared a missing person.

Suspicion soon falls on her sister Meg, who was the last person to see her.

Through twists and turns, it is revealed that Meg has been sleeping with her brother-in-law Todd… And then there is a question of a newly purchased insurance policy that just has just gone into effect before Gen’s disappearance. Both Todd and Meg deny any knowledge of it.

But has an actual crime been committed? Can it be proven? And if so, who is really the guilty one?

Review

This is a twisty ride of a story that is easy to fly through. There are short chapters and enough shifts in character and timeline to keep it engaging. The strongest aspect of this book is the premise. Gen has gone missing after a drunken night with her sister and everyone she is connected to is shady. Including herself. None of the characters are very likable but like most mysteries that doesn’t really take away from the plot. My biggest problem was how nonsensical the choices the characters make are. I really struggled with why characters would do what they were doing. Tate also seemed like she wrote this book just to shock the readers which to me doesn’t work since it almost forces the plot to break down and not flow together. However, with that said, I think that this book is entertaining and would make a great weekend read if you wanted something fun and riveting.

Author Bio: 

Courtney Evan Tate is the nom de plume (and darker side) of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Cole. As Courtney Evan Tate, she is the author of Such Dark Things and I’ll Be Watching You. Courtney grew up in rural Kansas and now lives with her husband and kids in Florida, where spends her days dreaming of new characters and storylines and surprising plot twists and writing them beneath rustling palm trees. Visit her on Facebook or at courtneycolewriters.com

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @Court_Writes

Instagram: @CourtneyColeWrites

Facebook: @CourtneyColeWrites

Goodreads

Excerpt

1

Genevieve tipped the courier and set the certified letter on the coffee table.

She knew what it was. She’d been waiting for it for almost a week.

Every day, she’d wondered, Will it be today?

And each day it wasn’t.

Until today.

Nervous energy buzzed through her fingers and toes, tingling through her veins, like ants scurrying in a thousand directions. She paced for a minute, stopping at the floor-to-ceiling windows, staring at the magnificent cityscape lining the horizon. Buildings burst through the hazy pollution, their tips scraping the clouds.

People far below her were bustling here and there, quick to walk, slow to linger. They had things to do, places to be, and she didn’t.

Not anymore.

She ripped open the envelope, pulling the banded documents out, scanning through the words, hunting for the official stamps and signatures that declared this an official act of the court.

They were all there.

This was real.

It was finally happening.

She focused her gaze on the words before her.

Honestly, they were simple.

The black-and-whiteness of them was stark and startling. There were no gray areas, no areas open to interpretation.

They reduced the last ten years of her life into a handful of legal phrases and technical terms. Incompatible differences associated with adultery, marriage dissolution and absolute divorce.

She stared at the words.

Soon, she would be absolutely divorced. She just had to sign the papers.

It had only taken six months of her life to iron out the details. To separate all of their worldly possessions into two camps, his and hers, to figure out who got what. Divorcing a lawyer was the only thing worse than being married to one. No matter that he was the one in err, because he repeatedly fucked someone else, he was out for blood and it took months to sort it all out.

But thank God no children were involved.

That’s what people kept saying, like it was a good thing or a blessing.

But if she’d had a child, she wouldn’t be all alone, and someone would still love her.

She felt like she was floundering. For so long, she’d put all of her energy into a man who hadn’t deemed her worthy to stay faithful to. That had done something to her self-confidence. Something terrible. It wounded her in places she hadn’t known she had, and now she had to figure out who she was without him.

She wasn’t Genevieve Tibault anymore, one half of a whole. She was Genevieve McCready again, and what was Genevieve McCready going to do now, now that she had to stand alone?

She pushed herself off the couch and ran water in her coffee cup. It was a habit Thad had taught her. He hated it when the cups developed coffee rings. She stared at the running water, and then set her cup down.

She didn’t have to do what he wanted anymore. If she wanted coffee rings or tea rings or any kind of fucking rings, she could have them.

It was an epiphany.

She was her own person again. It had been so long since she was a me instead of a we.

She looked around, at the condo she had fought so hard for…the marble floors that they couldn’t agree on—she’d wanted slate, he’d wanted marble—at the modern light fixtures that he’d gotten his way on, at even the tan wall colors. She’d wanted gray.

Why had she even wanted this place?

It was all Thad, and none of Genevieve.

A sense of exuberance, a strange jubilation, welled up in her as she searched online for a realtor and then dialed the phone.

Bubbles of excitement swelled in her belly as she arranged a time for the realtor to come see the place.

And then again, as she stared at a map.

Unlike Thad, someone who had spent years building up his legal practice and honing his networking skills in this one city, she could work from anywhere.

She wrote novels. 

She could work in Antarctica if she wanted to.

She didn’t want to, but she could.

She already had a plan. She knew where she was going, and what she was doing. She just had to have the courage to do it.

She picked up the phone and called her only sister, Meghan.

“Meg, I’m moving home.”

Her sister paused. “Home as in…?”

“Cedarburg.” There was a long pregnant pause now.

“Um. Why would you want to move back to Wisconsin? You haven’t lived there in…”

“In eighteen years. Since I left for college. Yes.”

“But…why?”

“I don’t know,” Gen said honestly. “I just feel a need to get back to my roots. I love Chicago, but the traffic and the noise…” She stared out from her twentieth floor windows again. Even from up here, even though the vehicles looked like Matchbox cars, she could still hear the honking. “This feels like Thad. I want to feel like me.”

“There’s nothing there,” Meg said carefully. “Nothing but fields and cold and—”

“And friendly people,” Gen interrupted. “And our parents, and familiarity, and open spaces, and distance from Thad.”

“But I won’t be there,” Meg reminded her gently. “I’m not moving back. I think you need to be near me, Gen. You need a support system. Divorce is no joke.”

“I know that,” Gen said patiently. “I’m the one living it. You’re still with your Prince Charming and point five children living the American Dream, and I’m the one sitting in an empty condo.”

She fought to keep the bitterness out of her voice, as she compared Meg’s bustling, messy home to her own stark and empty condo in her mind’s eye. 

“I’ll tell Joey that you’re counting him as a point five,” Meg chuckled.

“Well, he’s only five, so it’s fitting. I mean, honestly. He’s not a whole person yet.”

They laughed again, and then Meg sobered up.

“Is this really something you want to do?”

Gen nodded. “Yeah. I think so.”

Meg took a big breath. “Well, let’s do it, then. I’ll help you with your condo, and finding a moving company, and looking online for a house there, and hell’s bells, we’ve got a lot to do!”

“You don’t have to help with all that…” Gen trailed off, but Meg interrupted with their life-long pact.

“Sisters forever,” she decreed. They’d used that pact since they were kids. Whenever one didn’t want to do something, the other would remind them “sisters forever,” and they would concede.

Gen realized she wasn’t going to get away with not letting Meg get her hands in all the new plans.

“Sisters forever,” she agreed.

“But first, you promised to go to my convention with me,” Meg reminded her.

Gen hesitated.

“Don’t tell me you forgot. New York City? Spa days, shopping—you need a new wardrobe, sis—and nights on the town. You promised.”

Gen paused again, and Meghan cajoled, “Pleassssse. We need this. You need this. It can be your divorce party.”

“Okay,” Gen found herself saying. “Fine. I’ll still come.”

Her sister squealed and Gen hung up before Meg could get too excited. She was moving away from everything she’d known for over a decade. Even though the world seemed unsettled and uncertain, for the first time in at least five years, she felt at peace.

Excerpted from The Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate, Copyright © 2020 by 

Lakehouse Press, Inc. Published by MIRA Books

~Cassie

Blog Tour: The Wife He Needs By Brenda Jackson

Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all graphics and info.

Book Description: 

Will this billionaire bachelor say “I do” to love? He desires her more than any other woman. 

The arrangement is simple: a two-week getaway, then a marriage of convenience. Until Garth Outlaw’s potential bride is a no-show. Now family pilot Regan Fairchild is sharing his bed—and he can’t get enough…even though he’s vowed never to love again. Can Regan convince him the wife he needs and the woman he desires are one and the same?

Price: $5.25

ON-sale date: December 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781335209498

Review

Regan and Garth had a sweet romance with hot chemistry set in the beautiful backdrop of Santa Cruz, Spain. The set up for this story is fun since it leaves our two main characters stranded in a beautiful place where they get the chance to admit their feelings for each other and act on them. I loved the opulence of their lives and the gorgeous descriptions of their food and clothing. I appreciated how slowly they transitioned from friends to lovers and were mostly completely honest with each other about what they wanted. I did find the physical stuff to be too descriptive for me and it really took me out of the story. I am a lover of steamy romance but instead of being caught up with the characters, I was more caught up with all the different ways Jackson used to describe kissing, Regan’s body etc. Which does show she has quite a range but it could have used some editing down. Overall, this was the perfect afternoon read and I enjoyed seeing cameos from the Westmorelands.

Author Bio

Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling. Email Brenda at authorbrendajackson@gmail.com or visit her on her website at brendajackson.net.

Excerpt

“So, when is the wedding, Garth?”

Garth Outlaw raised his eyes from studying his cards. Was his brother playing mind games to mess with his concentration?

“And just what wedding are you talking about?”

Garth glanced around the table and saw the smirks on the faces of all four of his brothers. Even Jess had made a trip home from the nation’s capital for a week long visit.

“Is anyone going to answer?” Garth asked.

Jess grinned as he threw out a card. “I heard it from Dad the moment I walked through the door. He claims you’ve gotten over Karen Piccard, decided to settle down and do whatever needs to be done for the benefit of the company, which includes getting a wife and making babies to guarantee the Outlaw dynasty. Those were his words, not mine.”

“We heard the same thing,” Cash said, with Sloan and Maverick nodding in agreement.

Garth didn’t say anything. Being the oldest son of Bartram “Bart” Outlaw wasn’t easy, especially when his father liked spreading information that wasn’t true. However, in this case, it was. At least partly. He was planning to do what needed to be done for the company. But he seriously doubted he would ever get over Karen. She would always have his heart.

“No wedding date has been set because I haven’t chosen a bride.”

His brother Cash sat up straight in his chair. “Are you really thinking about settling down with a wife and making babies?” he asked, as if the thought of doing such a thing was as unheard of as living in outer space.

Garth threw out some chips. “Why not? I don’t see any of you guys rushing to the altar to continue the Outlaw legacy. Not even you, Jess, and you’re the politician in the family. You of all people should be thinking about acquiring a wife.” A couple of years ago, Jess had gotten elected as a senator from Alaska.

A grin touched Jess’s lips. “No, thank you. I’m not ready to fall in love.”

Garth shrugged. “Who said anything about falling in love?”

“You’re thinking of marrying a woman you don’t love?” This question came from Sloan. 

“For me there’s no other way.”

There was no reason to explain what he meant. They knew.

“And you’ll do it because Bart says it needs to be done?”

Garth rolled his eyes at his youngest brother, Maverick, who’d been quiet up to now. “No, I’ll consider doing it because I think it’s about time I settled down. I’m thirty-eight, and dating gets old.”

“Speak for yourself,” Maverick said, grinning. “I happen to enjoy dating a lot of women.”

Garth shook his head. “And Walker got me thinking. Look how long he was a loner before he got married. If he can do it, then anyone can.”

Walker Rafferty was Garth’s best friend. A couple of years ago, Walker had met his current wife and now they were parents to twins, a boy and a girl they’d named Walker and Westlyn. Nobody thought Walker would ever remarry after losing his first wife and son in a car accident. Surprisingly, ten years later, Walker had fallen in love again. Garth was happy for Walker, and inspired to settle down, but honestly, he couldn’t see himself falling in love. He was convinced Karen was the only woman he was meant to love.

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~Cassie

Blog Tour: After Hours Redemption By Kianna Alexander

Thank you to Harlequin for working with me on this post and providing all graphics and info.

Book description

Their red-hot reunion is off the charts!

They made passionate music together. Has this heartbreaker changed his tune?

Songwriter Eden Voss had the perfect man—sexy, charming, talented and hers. Until record executive Blaine Woodson broke her heart to save his fledging label. Now music’s bad boy is back, begging for her songwriting skills in his studio…and her lovemaking skills after hours. Eden vows to keep things strictly business this time. But there is nothing professional about the heat still between them…

About the author: Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She’s a voracious reader, an amateur seamstress and occasional painter in oils. Chocolate, American history, sweet tea, and Idris Elba are a few of her favorite things. A native of the TarHeel state, Kianna still lives there with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80’s Barbie dolls.

Author links

Excerpt, AFTER HOURS REDEMPTION by Kianna Alexander

“Mind telling me why you insisted on coming here?” He eyed her curiously.

She tugged him along by the hand, around the circular path leading to the Clara Meer Dock. When they came to a stop, she pointed. “This is why I wanted to come here.”

He looked out, his eyes scanning the dark, glassy surface of Lake Clara Meer. “I’m guessing you come here often?”

She nodded. “This is my thinking spot. Whenever I’m working on lyrics and I can’t quite get it right, I come here. I spread my blanket out on the grass, sit down with my notepad and work it out.”

He looked at her skeptically. “So, did we come here to work?”

“Nah.” She shook her head. “It’s Saturday night, after all. I brought you here to talk.”

He frowned. “I’m still confused.”

She started walking over to the grassy patch overlooking the water and the dock and spread out the blanket there. “Something about this place always seems to bring me clarity. It’s a little slice of heaven, right in the middle of the city. It’s bound to inspire some pretty deep conversation between us.” She sat down, careful not to let her dress ride up till heaven and earth were filled with her glory. Then she patted the empty spot next to her.

He hesitated, standing there on the concrete path, looking a bit baffled.

“You scared, Blaine?” She faked a pout, sticking her lip out as she teased him. “Of little old me?”

He rolled his eyes, but his smile was evident as he joined her on the blanket. “You’re too much, Eden.”

“So, we’re basically alone now.” Or at least as close to alone as we’re gonna get without me crawling into your lap. She watched him, taking in his moon-dappled handsomeness. The dim lighting seemed to enhance his features, especially the golden flecks in his dark eyes. He was temptation in the flesh; her body craved him even though her mind knew better than to get lost in him again. The question was, how much longer would she be able to lead with logic? “What do you want to talk about?”

He cleared his throat. “If I’m being honest…”

“Please do,” she encouraged.

“I want to talk about kissing you again.” His deep baritone had each word dripping with sensual energy.

Warmth raced through her body, and she felt it pool in her cheeks, her chest and a bit farther south. “Blaine.” She meant it as chastisement, but it came out sounding far sultrier than she’d intended.

He shrugged. “Can’t blame a brotha for shooting his shot.”

“I guess not.” She chuckled, from both amusement and nerves. “I don’t know if we should lead with talking about kissing, though.”

“Why not?” He gave her a wicked look. “Did you enjoy the kiss?”

She swallowed and needing a respite from the intensity of his gaze, she looked down at her lap. Her dress had crept up her to mid-thigh, so she tugged the end a bit. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. But that’s beside the point.”

“If you say so.”

She shook her head. Same old Blaine. Always charming, never reflective. “There’s too much in our past that you’re not considering, Blaine. We can’t just ignore our history.”

“Who said I’m ignoring it?” He traced a finger along her lower leg, trailing from her knee to the top of her sandal-encased foot. “What I know about you, our ‘history’ as you call it, is precisely why I want you.”

She drew a deep breath. Was he misremembering? Or was he really so clueless that he didn’t understand where she was coming from? “You know your decision to cut Ainsley and me from the group effectively ended both of our singing careers, right? Not to mention how much it hurt me personally. You have to realize the impact of that.”

Sales links:

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Confessions on the 7:45 By Lisa Unger

Thank you so much Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all info and graphics.

CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45

Author: Lisa Unger

ISBN:    9780778310150  

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Park Row Books

BOOK SUMMARY: 

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you should never, ever make conversation with strangers.

Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.

Review

This is a very enthralling and well plotted out book but, unfortunately, it didn’t quite reach my expectations. The story was bogged down by a lot of preachy societal commentary about how people falsely present themselves on Instagram, toxic men, well, really, just men in general. While all of that can definitely be true at times, I didn’t appreciate how much it took over the story. It felt like anytime the story really got going the plot was paused to add in more unnecessary commentary. I love when mystery/thrillers have multiple narrators but another aspect of this story that dragged it down was when we inexplicably got more viewpoints. The only thing that they seemed to add was to the author’s commentary and not much plot wise. I feel like this book could have been streamlined to make the pacing faster and everything feel more immediate.

The book starts with four main narrators and I really connected with Anne. She is such a complex, shifty character and I really appreciated what she brought to the story. Another character that I mostly enjoyed was Serena, although she had major moments where I just wanted to shake her. Serena reminds me a lot of the characters that I used to read a lot of back 5-6 years ago. Where the woman is such a mess and makes excuses for her life instead of just owning that her choices put her where she is.

However, despite all that, I found the story so captivating that I read this book in about 24 hours. The plot was predictable but I still really enjoyed seeing everything come together. I also really enjoyed the ending and Unger wrapped things up perfectly. If you love domestic thrillers then I think this book could be one that you really enjoy. I know that there were aspects of this story that I didn’t like but there was also something about that kept me engaged and thinking about it. So, for that reason, I will be trying some of Unger’s backlist to see if I fare any better with those stories.

BIO: 

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today showGood Morning AmericaEntertainment WeeklyAmazonIndieBound and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.

SOCIAL:

Author Website: https://lisaunger.com/ 

TWITTER: @lisaunger

FB: @authorlisaunger  

Insta: @launger

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18445.Lisa_Unger 

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

~Cassie