February Reading Challenge Discussion

February’s Reading Challenge was to read a novel with Red on the Cover or in the Title or Author’s Name.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox is an incredibly fast-paced and riveting mystery which is set in a small town in Queensland, Australia.

Former narcotics detective Ted Conkaffey leaves Sydney under a cloud of suspicion and heads for the small town of Crimson Lake near Cairns.  Having lost everything after being accused of a heinous crime, prosecutors dropped his case mid-trial and he can be re-arrested at a later date. Lying low and wallowing in self-pity, his lawyer puts in him touch with convicted murderer turned private detective Amanda Pharrell. Despite his reservations, Ted teams up with Amanda to investigate the disappearance and suspected murder of local author Jake Scully.

Ted was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it is shocking how quickly his colleagues and wife believed he was guilty of a monstrous act of violence.  Struggling to regain his footing following his release from prison, Ted wants nothing more than fade into the background. But with local patrol cops Lou Damforth and Steven Hench and reporter Fabiana Grisham plaguing him, Ted fears it is only a matter of time before his past is exposed.

Lacking purpose and a sense of self, Ted reluctantly decides to meet with Amanda. She is a bit eccentric with some rather quirky traits but there is no denying she definitely has a knack for unearthing credible leads to follow.  Amanda’s past is well-known in the community, yet they seem willing and able to overlook her history. Although Amanda and Ted mostly focus on locating Jake,  he cannot resist digging around in his new partner’s past.

Their investigation into Jake’s disappearance soon turns up vital evidence that changes the direction of their inquiry. Amanda has discovered interesting information about Jake that is intriguing but does it have anything to with current events? Ted is a bit troubled by some of Amanda’s tactics but since she yields results, he keeps his concerns to himself.  However, their investigation is soon overshadowed by intense media scrutiny after Ted becomes the leading news story.

Crimson Lake is a complex, layered mystery with interesting characters, a  compelling storyline and a vibrant setting.  Amanda is a fantastic character who is flawed yet sympathetic. Ted is rightfully angry and resentful that no one believes in his innocence. Candice Fox brings this multifaceted mystery to an absolutely stunning and twist-filled conclusion.

The second installment in the Crimson Lake series, Redemption Point is also an outstanding mystery.

Please click HERE to learn more about Crimson Lake.

Set in the Wyoming territory, Sweetwater by Lisa Henry poignant historical gay romance that takes place in 1870.

Elijah Carter lives with his adopted father, Dr. Carter. Despite Dr. Carter’s obvious love for his adopted son, Elijah does not feel worthy of his love. He has very low self-worth and feels great shame because his is deaf. Due to his deafness, many of the townspeople believe Elijah is stupid and he is often bullied.

Needless to say when saloon owner Harlan Crane takes an interest in him, Elijah is receptive to his attention. Elijah feels “seen” for the first time and Harlan easily manipulates the young man into an abusive relationship. Elijah’s believes he deserves punishment and rough treatment so he does not fight Harlan’s increasingly violent acts.

Just as Elijah becomes involved with Harlan, cowboy Grady Mullins takes notice of the young man. He is a gentle and caring man who is initially reluctant to become involved with Elijah. But as he notices Harlan’s ill-treatment of Elijah, Grady cannot resist approaching him. After violence tears Elijah’s safe world apart, Grady steps in and helps him begin to heal from his tragic loss. But with Elijah bent on revenge, will there be any chance of a future for them?

Sweetwater is a bit of a dark romance with a vibrant setting. The storyline is interesting but the pacing is a little slow. Elijah is a wonderful drawn young man whose pain and lack of self-esteem radiate throughout the novel. Grady is patient and understanding as he shows Elijah nothing but caring and tenderness. Harlan is absolutely despicable with few redeeming qualities. He takes advantage of Elijah and his abuse is absolutely heartrending.  Lisa Henry brings this non-traditional romance to a surprisingly upbeat and completely satisfying conclusion. A thought-provoking novel that will linger in readers minds long after the last page is turned.

Please click HERE to learn more about Sweetwater.

Did you enjoy the book you selected for this month’s challenge?


Check out ’s challenge HERE.


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2 Responses to February Reading Challenge Discussion

  1. Suze

    I like the sound of Crimson Lake.
    I’ve looked at Sweetwater before, your review is good – may give it a go.
    I read two books in the end
    Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat by Roe Horvat. This was an emotional journey, following Simon as he gets over, meets and rediscovers Matej (the book is non sequential) and it is about his mental state. Not a traditional romance but intriguing anyway.
    The Fall Guy by Chris Quinton -Pinkerton man John, follows the trail from NY to London – on a liner along with gentleman thief Chas. evocative of the area, short so lots more I wanted.
    Enjoyed both, very different but delivered different things for me

    • Book Reviews & More by Kathy

      I’ve read all three books in the Crimson Lake and I’ve enjoyed every one of them! Sweetwater is a different romance and I am very glad I read it.

      I’m not much of a novella or short story reader but I’m intrigued by the books you read!