Publisher: NAL

Review: Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

Posted December 20, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Silence for the Dead by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
Silence For the Dead by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape, Library
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic
Pages: 368
Length: 10 hours and 33 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

I’ve been searching for a good Gothic novel, and I finally found it in Silence for the Dead. Full of atmospheric suspense, Silence for the Dead delivered the perfect read for a rainy night.

Kitty Weekes is dead broke and on the run, so she fakes a resume and accepts a position as a nurse at Portis House, an asylum for soldiers who came home mentally damaged from the war. In the quiet of the night, something stalks the halls of Portis House. Is it nothing more than the imaginings of crazy men, or is something more sinister happening?

St. James pulled me in from the first, with the creepy atmosphere and the mystery surrounding why Kitty Weekes is on the run, and how she’ll adjust to life in a mental health facility for veterans when she has no training as a nurse. I enjoyed the cast of characters and the suspense of wondering if they were all mad, or if the house itself was truly haunted.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Posted November 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Library, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

The award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare and Silence for the Dead, presents another mesmerizing gothic story of intrigue...

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is available for the Audible Escape package. I downloaded it after finishing Silence for the Dead, because I wanted more from St. James and because I enjoyed the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, quite a bit. This gothic romance is perfect for the fall season.

Ellie Winter is a psychic Medium. When a rival Medium, Gloria Sutter, is murdered and her brother shows up asking for Ellie’s help in finding her, Ellie agrees reluctantly. She and Gloria had been friends once upon a time, but Gloria betrayed Ellie in a devastating way and they hadn’t spoken in years. If Gloria hadn’t left a note with her brother “Tell Ellie Winter to find me”, Ellie probably would have told him no. As it is, despite her anger and hurt over Gloria’s betrayal, she can’t walk away.

James Hawley is an investigator for the “New Society”. He, and his colleagues, try to verify or debunk psychics. He was instrumental in declaring Ellie’s mother a fraud, but something about their case has always bothered him. As the only verified true psychic – something he helped prove – Gloria had a lot of notoriety in London. Discovering if his findings are part of the reason she was murdered has James helping Ellie.

This is the second novel by St. James I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, but it was still a creepy, lovely tale. I quite enjoyed the setting – mid 1920s London – and the glimpse into the life of a true Medium who can see and summon spirits. Ellie’s talent in that regard came across well. I enjoyed her as whole, in fact. She was independent and strong, yet had a vein of vulnerability and loneliness running through her that made her easy to connect with.

I enjoyed the mystery of why Gloria Sutter was murdered, and by whom. I had the majority of things figured out, but still there were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This was a cozy, atmospheric Gothic novel not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

Posted July 25, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha YoungReviewer: Holly
Down London Road by Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #2
Also in this series: On Dublin Street , Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2), Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street, #3), Before Jamaica Lane, Castle Hill, Fall From India Place, Fall From India Place, Fall from India Place , Castle Hill, Echoes of Scotland Street , Moonlight on Nightingale Way, Moonlight on Nightingale Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, On Hart's Boardwalk (On Dublin Street #6.7) , On Hart's Boardwalk, Echoes of Scotland Street
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 369
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control...

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets... even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

I recently re-read this book and it was just as good as the first time. Although I enjoyed most of this series, Down London Road remains my favorite.

This review was originally posted on May 3, 2013.

We first met Johanna Walker in On Dublin Street. She was Joss’s good friend and co-worker. She was also a shameless gold digger. She was portrayed as a blond bimbo who was just looking for a man to take care of her. Yet even in that story we see there’s more to her, since she takes care of her younger brother, Cole.

Here we finally learn what’s behind the bimbo mask Jo wears. Yes, she dates older, wealthy men. But she’s never been with someone she didn’t genuinely care about. And who can blame her for wanting stability and wealth when she has her younger brother to think of?

Until she meets Cameron McCabe at an art show. Cameron seems to see right through her, into her very soul. They have an immediate attraction and Jo, for the very first time ever, craves a man who won’t be any good for her family. Until Cam opens his mouth and ruins it by jumping to conclusions about her and making her feel bad about herself.

Thanks to his harsh words, she starts seeing herself in a new light, and what she sees isn’t good. When Cam gets a job bartending with her, then moves into the flat below hers, she’s forced to admit she wants him, even if he is a total jerk. But when Cam realizes he was wrong about Jo and presses her to explore what’s between them, she’ll have to choose between doing something for herself and the stability of providing for her family..

The truth about Johanna isn’t that she’s a gold digger. She’s just desperate to provide a good life for her brother. She grew up with an abusive father who finally disappeared when she was around 10. Since then she’s been caring for her younger brother, as her mother is nothing but a drunk. And not a functional drunk, either, a bed-ridden one. Jo dropped out of high school at 16 to get a job to support them and she’s determined that Cole with have a better life than she did.

Because she’s uneducated, she knows there isn’t much hope of her providing a stable life for Cole….unless she can find a man. She might be dumb, but she’s pretty and that’s enough to get her what she needs. The interesting thing is that though she takes gifts from her boyfriends, she doesn’t ask them to support her. She doesn’t have them pay her bills, or give her cash. They buy her gifts she later sells on ebay for money, but she won’t take money from them direct. She also works two jobs.

In this, Young did an excellent job of showing us both sides of Jo. The insecure girl who has a fear of poverty and the strong, independent woman who only wants the best for her younger brother (who is really more like her son). I’m not sure she would have worked quite so well if there hadn’t been such a good balance between strong and vulnerable.

Cam hits every one of her insecurities right in the heart. He judges her and makes her feel less than she already does. She’s used to people thinking the worst of her, but for some reason his scorn really cuts her to the quick. Although it was hard to read those parts with Cam being such a jerk at times, I feel they were necessary to force Jo to really look inside herself and find her worth. She has to look inside herself to find out why his opinion of her matters so much, and what she can do to live up to his expectations.

That isn’t to say she changes for him. I think this book is as much Jo’s personal journey as it is a romance. She doesn’t want to change to be the person he wants her to be, but she wants to stop being the insecure woman who jumps at her own shadow. Cam was merely the catalyst for this transformation.

Cam is a tough character to like in the beginning. His disapproval of Jo and her lifestyle is understandable in one respect, as he isn’t too far off the mark about her. Yet he goes too far, jumping to conclusions and saying things that are way out of line. But we see there’s more to him than the judgmental jerk we meet in the beginning. Jo sees flashes of kindness in him almost immediately and as the story progresses he’s revealed as a strong, steady man who knows himself and is willing to put himself out there for those he cares about.

Aside from the fact that Jo and Cam are both dating other people, there’s added drama that comes from Jo’s life. Her alcoholic mother, gone but not forgotten abusive father and surrogate uncle who abandoned her. She has to overcome all of these obstacles in order to have happiness with Cam. I liked that her self-awareness grows as she does.

This is a novel of multi-faceted characters filled with emotion and depth. Highly recommended.

4.5/5

On Dublin Street

This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

four-half-stars


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Retro-Review: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Posted October 4, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro-Review: Lover Mine by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #8
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 27th 2010
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 528
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.
Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

*****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: I can’t believe this book was released in 2010 and the series is still going. Crazycakes.

This review was originally published June 4, 2010

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.
This is the first book that I’ve really liked since Lover Eternal. As I’ve said numerous times, I loved Dark Lover, really liked Lover Eternal and was so-so with Lover Awakened. I read the rest of the books in the series b/c I’m a glutton for punishment I suppose. I just couldn’t quit (though I went the library route). John Matthew is probably the only character besides Tohr that still interests me. I wonder at the fact that this book was so much better than her previous books. I believe that JRW saw the negative feedback and reversed direction a little. Or maybe we were just long overdue for a good one in the series after the wrecks that were Lover Enshrined and Lover R. ::shrug::

The previous book ended with Xhex being taken by Lash. Lash is the Omega’s son, blahblahblah. He’s still as boring as he was from the first book. He’s not scary, he’s not villainous, he’s just pathetic. First Lash took Xhex to get back at John Matthew, then he “fell in love” with her, which basically means that he wants to own her and thinks that she’s his mate.

For Xhex, her time with Lash is eerily reminiscent of the time she got taken by the sympaths. Her situation really makes you think about how many bad things can really happen to one person.  I know she’s not a person exactly, but Xhex has gone through more than any person (or vampire) should go through.  I never thought that I would think Xhex was anything but bad ass.  Lover Mine showed a whole different side to her and that was before she even got rescued.  One thing that remains clear about Xhex is that she’s a survivor.

John Matthew turned into a total man-whore in the last book.  It was ridiculous.  The guy was fucked up enough as it was.  He’s mute, he was raped, he lost the only mother he ever knew, then he lost the father as well.  Let’s add in man-whore on top of that.  John Matthew’s road was never going to be easy.  That was always clear.  So having him change so drastically over the course of one book was just stoopid.

Everyone should know by now that John Matthew is Darius reincarnated.  It was a little boring when reading Darius’ journals, but there was a point to everything.  Everything comes full circle.  Darius and Tohr were very close and it becomes clear exactly how close.  Darius was a father figure to Tohr in the same way Tohr was to John Matthew.  Tohr gets his head out of his ass in this book too.  Look, I obviously felt horrible when Wellsie died.  The fact that Tohr wasn’t there when John Matthew went through his transition was unforgivable to me.  Tohr finally realizes that staying away really hurt John Matthew.

John Matthew and Xhex were perfect for each other.  I never doubted it.  A lot of readers wanted to see John Matthew and Layla together, which would have been booooo-rrrrrring.  Xhex and JM complimented each other.  I loved how Xhex let John see her softer side.  I also loved how aware John was about that.  He never took anything Xhex said or did for granted.  He was grateful for her for every single second.

Of everything in the book, what Xhex said to John on page 300 was my favorite.  In a few short sentences, she nailed it.

“No, you’ve got it all wrong, John.” Reading his emotions, she shook her head. “You’re not half the male you could be because of what was done to you.  You’re twice what anyone else is because you survived.”

I was pretty impressed that JRW managed to keep it down to less than twenty pov’s. The whole Blay and Qhuinn story didn’t get resolved like I thought it would. I distinctly remembered in one of the chats that she said that something would be resolved. It wasn’t their relationship, that’s for sure. Everything was just as up in the air at the end of the book as it was at the beginning.

I was extremely happy with this book.

4 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

four-stars


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Review: Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy

Posted April 25, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Midnight Target by Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #8
Also in this series: Midnight Revenge, Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, Midnight Games, Midnight Pursuits, Midnight Action, Midnight Revenge, Midnight Captive, Midnight Target
Publisher: NAL, Signet
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Score and Midnight Revenge...

Four years ago, Cate’s entire life changed when she discovered she was the daughter of a supersoldier. But Jim Morgan’s overprotectiveness has pushed her away. These days, she’s working as a freelance photographer and living the dangerous life Jim never wanted for her.

When Cate snaps a photo linking a corrupt South American politician with the leader of a notorious drug cartel, her mercenary father leads a team to rescue her—only to get shot and critically wounded in the process.

As Morgan’s operatives rally together on a revenge mission, they’re faced with new alliances and old heartaches. Cate is forced to work with David “Ash” Ashton, the man who broke her heart two years ago, while Liam Macgregor and Sullivan Port resurface after years apart to finally try to deal with everything they’d left unsaid.

Soon it’s all-out war between the cartel and the mercenaries—with two couples caught in the middle of the blood feud. Love and redemption are within their reach...but first they have to make it home alive.

Midnight Target brings the Killer Instincts series to a close. I have to say, I haven’t enjoyed a series as much as this one in quite sometime. It’s sad to see it come to a close.

Cate Morgan has only known her father for five years, but they are alike in every way that counts. They both crave the adrenaline that they know a dangerous job can bring. Morgan wants his daughter to live the normal life that he never had. He wants her to go to college, marry a normal man, live in the suburbs. Cate wants adventure, danger, and love. She’s rebelled against everything that her father wants for her.

Cate is in Guantana where the civil unrest is at an all time high. The military is barely keeping the peace and the drug cartels almost have full control of the country. Cate is there with a colleague taking pictures and she snaps a photo of the most dangerous man in the world. Which might not be a big deal if he wasn’t supposed to be dead. When men come after her, she has no choice but to call her father and his men in for extraction.

When her father is critically wounded while trying to rescue her, Cate is devastated. She’s also furious. She desperately wants to be a part of the operation to strike back at those responsible. Her stepmother, Noelle, is fine with it, but David “Ash” Ashton is far from fine with putting Cate in the line of fire.

I loved Ash. He was spectacular. I completely disliked Cate. She was a spoiled brat. I really liked her in Midnight Action. I thought I would like her in this book, but she was only twenty one. I don’t think she had enough time to grow up.

My favorite part of this book was Liam and Sully. They have been dancing around each other since Midnight Action. Liam was devastated when Sully disappeared. Their love story was told over many of the books, and the conclusion was perfect. Their story is why I loved this book. Elle Kennedy really pushed the envelope with their relationship and I applaud her for that.

Cate and Ash rating: 3 out of 5.

Liam and Sully rating: 4.25 out of 5.


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