Publisher: MIRA

Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda Novak

Posted November 8, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
The Perfect Murder (The Last Stand, #6) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Last Stand #6
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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Goodreads
four-stars

For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband—a cop—committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento…and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime—a crime that could lead him straight to the man he's been looking for.

Once married to a serial killer, Jane has spent the past five years rebuilding her life. And with Sebastian she finally has a chance at happiness. But the man they're after is after them, too. For him this has become a personal battle, one he's determined to win. Whatever it takes…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: It’s interesting to me that 8-10 years down the road we’re still reading the same authors. I love that we’ve been able to go the distance with them. 

This review was originally posted on November 5, 2009.

This is the first book in this series that I wasn’t really looking forward too. The reason is that I was never really interested in the character of Jane Burke. I understand that I’m supposed to be sympathetic to her since she was married to a serial killer, but that was never the case. I never really felt bad for her. I felt bad for the situation she was in. I felt bad that she lost someone she loved. I just never felt bad for her. She made her bed. So I wasn’t very happy when I saw that she was going to be the heroine.

Jane is trying to make a name for herself at The Last Stand. With the help of Skye and Sheridan, Jane wants to help victims like herself. That’s another thing. While I guess she was technically a victim, I never saw her as such. I guess I’m not very sympathetic. When Skye and Ava go to South America on a paying job and Sheridan is out on maternity leave, Jane is in charge of The Last Stand. Hoping to prove herself, Jane takes a job for two teenage girls that have gone missing.

Sebastian Costas has been following Malcolm Turner for over a year. Since Malcolm killed Sebastian’s ex-wife and son then faked his own death, Sebastian has been on his trail. With his funds running low and time running out, Sebastian follows him to Sacramento. He has never been able to convince anyone that Malcolm is alive, but he has never doubted that. When his investigation puts him in Jane’s path, the two end up working together since their cases seem to be related.

Jane is understandably wary of getting involved with any man, let alone a man that has as much baggage as she does. I just wasn’t really feeling the relationship between Jane and Sebastian. I wanted to. By the time they actually met, I was starting to like Jane as a character. I liked Sebastian as well, even though he was obsessed with revenge.

Brenda Novak writes chilling villains. She has definitely proved herself as far as that goes. She is right behind Karen Rose in that respect, something that is pretty hard to do. At the beginning of the book, Malcolm seems to be the person that you would not want to meet in a dark alley. As the book goes on, he loses his steam. He ends up being rather pathetic. That was disappointing b/c Brenda Novak always comes through when it comes to her villains.

This is my least favorite of the series. Even being my least favorite, it was still a good read.

3.75 out of 5.

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Other books in the series:

Trust Me Stop Me Watch Me The Perfect Liar The Perfect Murder

four-stars


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Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Posted May 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn CarrReviewer: Rowena
Sheltering Mountain by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #2
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , ,

Publication Date: May 1st 2007
Pages: 376
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five-stars

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more.
Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Rowena and I used to love this series. I remember falling into Virgin River (book 1) and never wanting to leave the little mountain town.

This review was originally posted on October 4, 2007.
In the second book of the Virgin River trilogy, we follow John “Preacher” Middleton and Paige Lassiter on their adventure toward true love, a true love that will last forever and ever, Amen. We meet Paige Lassiter when she stumbles into Jack and Preacher’s Bar and Grill on a stormy night. She’s carrying her three year old son, Christopher and he’s sleeping and she’s in desperate need of …help. She’s very wary of Preacher, being the big bear of a man that he is and because she’s been badly beaten, Preacher does his best to help her, so his first order of business is to try to convince this young woman to stick around town for a little while so she can heal. She finally agrees and as the days pass, a love bond is formed between Paige and John and they slowly become a family unit, one that will go to the ends of the earth to help, protect and love the hell out of each other.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I was so looking forward to reading this book after reading the masterpiece (well in my eyes anyway) that was Virgin River. You see, in Virgin River, John “Preacher” Middleton is described as a big, bald motherbrother with bushy eyebrows, likened to Mr. Clean.

Mr. Clean? Yeah…not so my choice for Sexiest Man of the Year, if he’s yours, more power to you but for me? Not so much. So, being the shallow young woman that I am, I had a hard time getting excited about reading his book because, well…I wanted a hot stud of a hero and to me, Preacher just wasn’t it….but, I was happy when I started this book to learn that even though Preacher wasn’t the most hottest of heroes, he was still a very good and solid hero, one that I ended up loving (in a purely sisterly way of course) the hell out of, so that just goes to show you just how good, Robyn Carr is…I loved Preacher!

In this book, Jack and Mel are having their baby, Mike Valenzuela, their Marine friend is shot on the job and out on disability, Rick and Liz go through some really rough patches in their journey to adulthood and Preacher leans on the support of his friends to help Paige and her little boy fight the big bad monster that comes in the form of Paige’s evil ex husband, Wes Lassiter.

There was so much going on in this book and it should have left me feeling confused, miffed even because a lot of pages were dedicated to the townfolk of Virgin River and then to the setting up of the next book, Whispering Rock, which will star Mike Valenzuela and Brie Sheridan. The kicker of it all though, is I wasn’t mad, I didn’t feel cheated out of John and Paige’s story because I felt that Robyn Carr did a fabulous job of incorporating everything into this one book. I don’t feel that John and Paige needed more page time for their story because I felt that there was the right amount of EVERYTHING in this book.

I fell right in love with Paige and Chris for Preacher when I was reading this book and though I enjoyed the bits and pieces of their story that was laid out for me to read, I felt that the other parts of this book, the Rick and Liz parts, the Mike parts, the Jack and Mel parts were all creatively included in this story and made me feel like I was apart of the town of Virgin River, not merely reading about them.

What I really enjoyed about this story, is the way it’s told. Robyn Carr writes her stories, making the reader (well, this reader anyway) feel as though she’s sitting on a bar stool at Jack’s at the end of the day, beer in front of them, while they watched everything going down around them. I felt what the characters felt, I grieved with the characters and I was steamed right alongside, Preacher, Jack and Mike when Wes came into town, interrupting their town life. I was scared right alongside Paige, when she walked out of the corner store, coming back from watching Soap Opera’s to find the one man that has the ability to render her scared out of her wits, Wes. I felt Jack’s rage when Wes pushed Mel down and I raged right beside Preacher…I could even taste the cookies that Preacher and Christopher made, RC is that good with a pen.

This book was more than just about Preacher and Paige finding love together. It’s about the small town that they live in and the people that surround them. It’s about unity and family and those are things that I really enjoy in a book. This book certainly does not disappoint. I fell right in love with this story as I did when reading, Virgin River.

Gosh, I’m hoping against hope that RC decides to write, Rick’s story because I have come to love the hell out of that boy. I got all teary eyed when all the crap went down with him and Liz, my heart broke right along with him and when he chooses to become a man and make Jack and Preacher proud of him, my heart swelled because I have fallen head over heels in love with this little boy who is growing up to be such a wonderful man. I’m rooting him on because I love him that much and I hope to high heaven that he gets his own story because I think he totally deserves one. Another man in this story that I fell like a rock for was, Mike Valenzuela. Goodness, even all sick and “weak dicked” this man to me is one sexy motherbrother. I already started his book and am counting the minutes until I can read the book again, that’s how much I loved Mike in this story, I already approve of his heroine choice and I’m soaking up the words as fast as I could because this series is just fantabulous!

I’m giving this book an A because I just loved it to pieces and thought RC did a fabulous job writing this, she’s totally going on my Auto-Buy list because of this series, kudos, Mrs. Carr, well done.

5 out of 5

five-stars


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Review: Family Sins by Sharon Sala

Posted November 3, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Family Sins by Sharon SalaReviewer: Casee
Family Sins by Sharon Sala
Series: Death Comes to Eden #1
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: October 25th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
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three-stars

MURDER IN EDEN

Felled by a cowardly shot to the back, Stanton Youngblood has just enough time before he dies to leave a single clue to his killer's identity: the word Wayne, scrawled in his own blood.

That word means everything to his widow. Leigh Youngblood was once Leigh Wayne, but she left her wealthy family behind thirty years ago when she fell in love with Stanton, a betrayal the Waynes have never forgiven. Now she publicly vows to discover which of her siblings thinks money and power are enough to cover up a murder.

Back in town to find his father's killer, prodigal son Brody finds his search for justice comes with an unexpected ray of light. He's loved Talia Champion forever, but when she said she couldn't marry him, he left town and never looked back. This time it's Talia who needs him, and it isn't in him to deny her anything.

But the killer still has a score to settle, and if that means spilling more blood—so much the better.

First thing is first. Brody is Bowie. I’m not sure how they got that one wrong in every synopsis that I looked at. So now that is out of the way.

Leigh Wayne married Stanton Youngblood against her family’s wishes and never looked back. It’s been thirty years and she hasn’t regretted a single moment. When she is working in her garden and hears a gunshot from where Stanton would be walking, her intuition kicks in and she go tearing after the sound. She finds Stanton face down in the dirt, shot in the back with the name “Wayne” scrawled in Stanton’s writing. Leigh is devastated to lose Stanton, but before she can grieve, she is going to bring her family to justice.

Calling her four boys home (three live on the mountain, one with her, and Bowie lives away from home), Leigh starts planning what she is going to do. When the constable of both towns don’t start investigating the Wayne’s, Leigh begins the investigation herself and makes a promise to the constable of her town…he better start investiating or she will and she will bring him down with her family.

The Wayne’s are your typical “nothing can touch me” family. They believe they’re above the law. They don’t know who killed Stanton, but they know that it was one of them. Still, they’re above the law. When Leigh storms their house, they all realize that they’re not off the hook. Leigh isn’t going to rest until she finds out who killed her husband in such a cowardly way.

Bowie in the meantime has moved to the head of the family. He’s also realized the love of his life, Talia, turned down his proposal seven years ago not because she didn’t want to marry him but because her father was sick. So that whole romance is going on during the suspense. It was kind of weird. Thrown in as an after thought.

Then there was a gigilo, a gay Wayne, a Wayne aunt that was sharing the gigilo, Bowie and Talia that were finding their love again, and another Wayne (maybe the killer, maybe not) that tried to kill Bowie and Talia. All sorts of shenanigans. Honestly. What resonated with me the most was Leigh’s grief. She had been with Stanton for thirty years. She couldn’t sleep in their bed without him. She could barely look at places on their property. Her grief literally reached through the pages. It was devastating.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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Review: The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

Posted August 2, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Secrets She Kept by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak
Series: Fairham Island #2
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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three-stars

The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it's suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn't believe it.

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he's worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he's built a new life in LA. He's also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother's death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he's determined to find his mother's killer.

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother's final days and hours entails a very real risk.

Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

Keith was an unspeakable ass in The Secret Sister, which was book one in this series. He was a drug addict and he took advantage of everyone he could, including Nancy Dellinger. On one hand, I want to forgive him because I know that being an addict is a real problem. OTOH, I can’t forgive him for all the people he hurt. I also can’t believe that Nancy fell in love with him. Nor can I believe that she’s been pining after him for five years.

Keith left Fairham Island five years ago and has been estranged with his mother Josephine since he left. He has kept in touch with both his sisters. He’s cleaned himself up and made a success of himself in real estate. A call in the middle of the night changes everything. His mother is dead. An apparent suicide. Keith doesn’t believe for one moment that the mighty Josephine Lazarow would kill herself and he flies to Fairham Island determined to prove it.

Oh the secrets and lies. This book read like a soap opera. A somewhat trashy soap opera. Then enter Nancy back into the picture. At first she wants to stay away from Keith. Then she wants to take what she can get before he leaves and goes back to California. Then she decides she wants to have some semblance of self-respect so she decides she needs to stay away from him. Then she decides she needs to take what she can get before he leaves because he’s the love of her life. Oh boy, girl can’t make up her mind.

In the meantime, Keith is stirring up a hornets nest by asking questions about everything to everyone on the island regarding Josephine. He doesn’t like the answers he’s getting either. In the end, it wasn’t surprising to know who the killer was. It was all tied up in a nice neat little bow. The end was a little to neat for me, especially Keith and Nancy’s relationship. It was just too pat for me. It doesn’t happen that easily, not in books. There was plenty of angst on Nancy’s part, but anytime Keith came calling, he got what he wanted. It was maddening.

I enjoyed The Secret Sister much more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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Guest Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Posted March 29, 2016 by TG in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. SnyderReviewer: TG
Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study Series #4, Soulfinders #1
Also in this series: Night Study
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
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four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance...

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands--and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret--or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is--while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous...

Okay so I want to start this off by saying that Poison Study is my favorite book of pretty much all time. So I was nervous going into Shadow Study. What if it ruins the first books for me? What if the characters suck?

They didn’t. This book didn’t do anything but make me love Poison Study even more. Now then, on to the review.

My main impression of this book was that it was setting up for the next one. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I almost felt like there was no true climax. But the conflicts in this story are definitely fresh and new, and the character development is worth the “to be continued….” Feeling.

Also Valek’s backstory. That’s all I have to say.

I’d give this a solid 4/5 for character development and writing, with points taken for the somewhat anticlimactic ending.

four-stars


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