Publisher: Berkley

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.   That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.   Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Nalini Singh has written a thriller novel and I didn’t think I’d be interested in that kind of thing since I read almost strictly romance but Nalini Singh is such a good writer that I couldn’t help myself. I had to check this one out and though there were parts that were a little slow for me, I still had a good time reading this one. Nalini Singh tells a story so well, that I could almost feel the coastal breeze on my face and see everything so clearly even though I’ve never been to New Zealand before.

Golden Cove, a coastal village on the west side of New Zealand was home to Anahera before she fled for London, swearing to never return. Eight years later, Anahera is back in Golden Cove to try to heal from the death of her husband and the ghosts that haunted her before, return when a girl she knew as a child, who is now a young woman disappears and the old hurts and scares of the past return with a vengeance. The residents of Golden Cove have always been more than neighbors. They’re a family in the small village and this time Anahera is older and she won’t just sit aside while bad things happen to her family. With the help of Will, the town’s only police presence, Anahera starts to investigate the disappearance of Miriama. The more the two of them dig into their investigation, the more shit starts popping up. You’d think that because this is a Nalini Singh book that there would be a romance between the out of town cop and the newly returned Anahera but this book wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t romantic suspense. It was a straight-up suspense novel and while I missed a central romantic plot, overall, I still enjoyed this one.

The beginning was really slow because we’re getting the set up of the story and it’s not a happy go lucky kind of story. There’s a history that is dark and it’s hard but the more that I kept reading, the more that I started to understand, the more I appreciated the slow start. Nalini Singh does a great job of making the small town of Golden Cove a character that was just as important as the good guys and the bad guys. When all was said and done, I appreciated her efforts but if I’m honest, I much prefer her paranormal romances. That’s more of a preference than anything else. Nalini Singh is good at whatever she decides to write. She can write her ass off and this book proves that. She does romance extremely well and with this book, she really does her thing. I think with a couple of more books under her belt in this genre, she’s going to be another force in the suspense, mystery and thriller worlds. She’s legit.

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 4, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third

Genres: Mystery
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.

That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Anahera returns to Golden Cove in her home country of New Zealand to hide away. Her husband died seven months earlier and she was devastated. That is, until she returned home and found his pregnant mistress in her house. Trying to deal with his death, as well as his betrayal, was too much for her and she needed to get out of London and go home.

There are a lot of people in her hometown that she knows and grew up with as well as some newbies. There are also a lot of painful memories in this town for Anahera, but also some wonderful ones of her mother.

Unfortunately Anahera’s quest for solitude is disrupted when a young woman goes missing. Anahera ends up helping the new constable, Will, in trying to locate the girl – along with the rest of the town. As Anahera and Will work together they become find an affinity between them. Their true focus, however, is on what happened to Miriama, and how her disappearance might have something to do with 3 female hikers that went missing 15 years earlier.

I absolutely love Nalini Singh’s romances so I was pretty excited when I realized that she had written this mystery. The main focus of this book is the disappearance of the girl and finding out exactly what happened to her, but Singh does manage to throw in a smidgen of romance, which I appreciated.

Singh does an great job with her character development, her descriptions of New Zealand and of course her writing. It definitely kept me reading and anxious to find out what was going to happen, but unfortunately I had figured out whodunnit pretty early in the book. I was surprised by some of the details but not by the culprit.

While I enjoyed the writing, the story didn’t blow me away. I liked that Anahera and Will were flawed people, and I was happy that they found each other – unfortunately they still kind of fell flat for me. I didn’t really connect with either one of them and that was disappointing.

Overall a decent read that’s well written.

Rating 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Posted December 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Blitzed by Alexa MartinReviewer: Rowena
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
Series: The Playbook #3
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can't best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he's worth. She doesn't care if he's a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she's not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn't matter if he brings more customers to her business--she's still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He'd been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can't. He can't tell anyone, so he'll make amends and hope she'll forgive him.

Brynn's not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn't impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

Blitzed is the third book in Alexa Martin’s The Playbook series. It follows the owner of the women’s bar, Hers, Brynn Larson as she falls in love with Denver Mustang, Maxwell Lewis. Their story wasn’t an easy story because it just about ended before it even started and the telling of this story is on the slow side so it was hard to stay invested in what was the characters were going through because of that. I spent a huge chunk of this book waiting for something, anything to happen and when things started to pick up, I had almost given up on the story as a whole.

In the previous book, I liked Brynn a great deal. I loved the idea behind her bar, Hers, and I really loved her personality but I struggled with her in this book when she’s front and center of all of the action. She was really whiny and I didn’t understand why for a lot of this book and I wasn’t a big fan of the conflict between them. When we first see these two together, Maxwell receives a phone call that shakes him up pretty bad that he behaves in a way that scares the crap out of Brynn but instead of being scared, Brynn gets mad. I could have understood that and even accepted it but it came off as too whiny and it bugged the snot out of me. Don’t even get me started on the Theo thing.

Then there was Maxwell. When we first meet him, my initial thought was that he was a sweetie pie. A giant teddy bear with a heart of gold but then that scene at Hers happens and we spend quite a long time not knowing what happened to cause him to lose his shit the way that he did and if I’m being honest, I didn’t dig that whole thing. I didn’t dig the fact that he threw his phone and nearly took Brynn’s head off, I didn’t like that he spent a long-ass time not being able to talk about everything but even though there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Maxwell, I never hated him. I never wanted him to not get his shit together and get the girl in the end but I don’t know, I guess I just wanted a different story for Brynn and Maxwell.

I will say that Alexa Martin brought the magic with the female friendships, and the whole reality shows stuff because I adored all of that. I loved how strong the friendships between all of the Mustangs women were. I loved how supportive they were of each other and how sure I was that they each had each other’s backs. They were loyal to each other and they cared and you saw it. You felt it. You understood it. That was my favorite thing about this book and even though the romance didn’t live up to the hype that I gave it leading up to my reading the book, I’m still looking forward to more books in this series. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get more books and that we’ll get a book for Eloise.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

The Playbook

three-stars


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Review: Into the Dark by Karen Rose

Posted December 2, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Into the Dark by Karen RoseReviewer: Casee
Into the Dark by Karen Rose
Series: Cincinnati #5
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Pages: 608
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger's car, never to be seen again.

Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm's length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.

But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his stepfather, Michael is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.

As more bodies start to appear it's clear that this killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way...

Unsurprisingly, this book packs quite the emotional punch. Karen Rose has such a gift for pulling the reader into the story only to spit you out at the end with all the feels. That was Alone in the Dark for me. Whenever there is a child involved, especially in KR book, it hits me hard. Like really hard. This book was no different.

Michael Rowland has been abused by his stepfather for years. The only reason he hasn’t run away is because he has to protect Joshua, his little brother. When he sees his stepfather inject Joshua with something, the fight is on. Michael gets Joshua away safely. For now. When Brewer comes looking for them, Michael hides in the bushes along the road. He then witnesses something that is hard to comprehend. A man murdering his stepfather. Michael is deaf so he didn’t hear anything that was said. He does feel relief that Brewer is dead, followed by terror that the killer will come after him and Joshua next.

Diesel Kennedy coaches peewee soccer. Joshua is on his team. When his brother, Michael, runs six miles to make sure he is okay, it sends up red flags for Diesel. The only person he can take the boys to is Dani Novak. Dani is not only a doctor, but she is able to do emergency foster care for deaf children. When Dani and Diesel realize the extent of Michael’s abuse, they will not let him out of their site. Diesel has taken it upon himself to protect Dani and the boys, something he takes very seriously. It is hard for him to be around Dani because she’s been rejecting his advances for 18 months. Still, Diesel can only look at the situation as the chance it is to make Dani see that they would be good together.

With Michael able to identify the killer, he is now being hunted by the killer. Who is not just a killer, but a serial killer. Dani, Diesel and all their friends now have to fight to keep the boys safe when it becomes evident that the killer won’t stop coming after Michael. And what a crack team they are together. I loved the dynamic with all the friends and visiting couples that I have read about in previous books.

KR did a superb job here. I was angry at the killer, yet at the same time rooting him on. If that’s not effed, I don’t know what is. KR just has that knack. I loved Michael and Joshua. Their problems were very real and they came out loud and clear through the pages. Dani and Diesel’s love was sweet and passionate. I liked that once Dani decided she was in, she was all in. With Diesel and with the boys. This is yet another book that shows Karen Rose is on top of the romantic suspense genre and not leaving anytime soon.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Cincinnati


four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Into the Dark by Karen Rose

Posted December 1, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I love Karen Rose. She is at the top of her game with Alone in the Dark. If you like romantic suspense, or romance, or suspense, you need to give Karen Rose a try. She will not disappoint. She hasn’t disappointed me once as a matter of fact!

Sunday Spotlight: Into the Dark by Karen RoseInto the Dark by Karen Rose
Series: Cincinnati #5
Also in this series: Into the Dark
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third

Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger's car, never to be seen again.

Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm's length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.

But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his stepfather, Michael is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.

As more bodies start to appear it's clear that this killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way...

Excerpt

Cincinnati, Ohio
Saturday, March 9, 5:40 a.m.

Michael shifted in the chair in the corner of Joshua’s bedroom, trying to get comfortable as he kept watch over his little brother, who slept peacefully, unaware that anything had happened tonight. At least there was that. Joshua wouldn’t have the memory of being drugged by their stepfather. Of their escape through the old orchard.

Michael had tried to sleep in his own bed. He truly had. God only knew, he was exhausted
enough. But every time he closed his eyes, he saw Brewer jabbing Joshua with a syringe and carrying him away. He’d tried to force his brain to see Brewer going limp under the big bald man’s hands, but his brain kept seeing the bastard getting up and walking away. That wasn’t what had happened, but until Michael knew for sure that Brewer really was dead, he’d be on pins and needles, waiting for his mother’s husband to come home.

And watching over Joshua. It wasn’t like anyone else was going to. Their mother had never been what anyone would call maternal, but she’d gotten much worse since Brewer had entered their lives.

He shifted again, then froze as a familiar rumble beneath his feet sent an even more familiar bolt of fear through his body.

The garage door. Someone had opened it.

Someone is here.

Michael shot to his feet, fumbling for the gun he’d taken from Brewer’s safe. Tucking it into the waist of his jeans at his back, he looked around the room wildly, nearly scooping Joshua up into his arms.

But again he froze. There was no time. Someone was coming.

Someone is here.

Brewer? Or . . . He remembered the big bald man tossing Brewer’s keys into the air. Had the man come back? Had he killed Brewer and come back? For us?

Oh God. He saw me. Knows I saw him kill Brewer. He thinks I’ll tell. He’ll kill me, too.

Michael’s brain told him to run, until his gaze fell to his little brother, still asleep. I’ll keep you safe. I won’t let him touch you. I promise.

Stepping back, Michael hid behind the chair and drew the gun. He’d kill whoever walked
through that door. Unless it was his mother. Her, he’d let live. Although she didn’t deserve to.

He’d gone to her, terrified and bleeding. Scared. He’d told her what her husband had done, the first time it had happened more than two years ago. And the second. And the third. But she hadn’t believed him. Or she’d claimed as much.

You’re lying, she’d told him. Michael could still feel the sting of her slap across his face. It was a wonder she hadn’t broken any of his teeth. But he hadn’t been lying about all the things her husband had done to him.

He’d threatened to go to the police, hoping they’d believe him, but his mother told him that they’d take him away— and maybe her, too. He and Joshua would go to foster care, but not together. They’d be separated, she’d told him, and everyone knew what happened to kids in those homes. Joshua would be hurt and it would be Michael’s fault. Unless he stayed quiet. So he had, enduring his stepfather’s “visits” in the night, hoping that Brewer would just go away.

Now he had. Because he’s dead.

He shuddered, pushing those thoughts from his mind. Not now. He couldn’t lose it now. Later, he’d fall apart. Later, when Joshua was safe.

Joshua, the only reason he’d stayed in this house. This hell.

Michael clutched the gun in both hands, willing them not to shake. Willing his eyes to stay open, even though he wanted to clench them shut and pretend none of this was happening. Because the door was opening. Slowly.

He held his breath, his heart hammering in his chest. No, no, no. It couldn’t be Brewer. Brewer was dead. Please let him be dead. Please let this be Mom. Please.

A shadow appeared in the doorway. Big. Hulking.

It was the man. The bald man. The man who’d killed Brewer with his bare hands. He was here. He stepped into the room, the moonlight from the window reflecting off his head as he stopped at the foot of Joshua’s bed.

Michael could see his face clearly. Memorized his features. Every detail, so that he could tell the police.

No, no, you won’t. You can’t tell the police. Because they wouldn’t believe him. His mother would tell them he was a liar. Just like she’d done when he’d told her that her new husband came to his bed at night.

She’ll find a way to blame me. That’s the way it’s always been.

He glanced at the gun he held in his shaking hands. I won’t need to tell the police, because I’m going to kill him.

Except the man didn’t touch his brother. He simply stood there, his gaze fixed on Joshua. There was no anger on the man’s face. None of the lustful leering that Michael had seen so often in Brewer’s eyes. Actually, the man looked . . . relieved. And that didn’t make sense.

The man’s gaze jerked up and Michael wondered if he’d made a sound. But the man didn’t
come closer. He just turned on his heel and left the room.

Michael sagged back against the bedroom wall, letting out the breath he’d been holding. A few minutes later he felt the rumble of the garage door going back down.

He crept to the window and peeked out into the night. And sucked in a breath when he saw the big man running down the driveway, toward the flickering light at the road, a suitcase in his hand.

He was gone.

Michael and Joshua were alone again.

Michael’s entire body began to shake. He stumbled to the chair just as his legs gave out. He didn’t have to wonder what would have happened if the man had discovered him there. He’d have put his hands on Michael’s throat and choked him until he’d gone limp, just as he’d done to Brewer.

Oh God. Oh God. I would have been dead. And Joshua would be all alone, unprotected. He
glared at the gun in his hand. He’d frozen. He should have shot the man as he’d stood next to

Joshua’s bed, but he’d frozen.

I won’t freeze next time. If he comes back, I’ll be ready.

Cincinnati

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Karen Rose

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published more than fifteen novels and two novellas. Her twenty-second novel, SAY YOU'RE SORRY, will be released in 2019.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa(#1) and Australia!
​​
Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.


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