Category Archives: Rated B+

Review: Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

Title: Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 417 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?

Review:

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score is a smoking hot, fun romance.

Maggie Nichols is a YouTube sensation who flips houses with her partner and best friend Dean Jensen. Their latest project brings them to Kinship, Idaho where Maggie plans to restore a dilapidated Victorian mansion to her former glory. She and Dean work with local businesses and since the grounds need restoration, Maggie hires flirty Silas Wright for the job. Maggie does not do relationships nor does she date contractors, but can she withstand Silas’s charm for the duration of her time in Kinship?

Ever since deciding to go on the road, Maggie has moved on from town to town without stopping. She has no permanent home and she works hard on each project. Maggie usually has no trouble selling the houses she renovates, but she is finding it difficult to not fully invest herself in the restoring the mansion. And then there is relentless upbeat and flirtatious Silas who is making it very difficult for her not to break her own rules.

Silas is thunderstruck as soon he meets Maggie. He is determined to convince her to change her mind about dating but her determination to remain unentangled is strong. Silas gradually begins to slip past her defenses but Maggie never lets him forget she is leaving when her reno is complete. They share a sizzling hot attraction but will Maggie allow herself to fall in love?

Maggie Moves On is a witty romance with plenty of heart. Maggie is a wonderful protagonist who fiercely protects herself from emotional pain. Silas is laidback  but he also has a surprisingly possessive streak. The sparks fly between Maggie and Silas and their interactions are playful and eventually, quite steamy. The secondary characters are somewhat quirky but quite endearing. The storyline is light-hearted and moves at a brisk pace.  Lucy Score brings this entertaining romance to a heartfelt conclusion that readers are sure to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Forever, Lucy Score, Maggie Moves On, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: And There He Kept Her by Joshua Moehling

Title: And There He Kept Her by Joshua Moehling
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Mystery
Length: 337 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

They thought he was a helpless old man. They were wrong.

When two teenagers break into a house on a remote lake in search of prescription drugs, what starts as a simple burglary turns into a nightmare for all involved. Emmett Burr has secrets he’s been keeping in his basement for more than two decades, and he’ll do anything to keep his past from being revealed. As he gets the upper hand on his tormentors, the lines blur between victim, abuser, and protector.

Personal tragedy has sent former police officer Ben Packard back to the small Minnesota town of Sandy Lake in search of a fresh start. Now a sheriff’s deputy, Packard is leading the investigation into the missing teens, motivated by a family connection. As clues dry up and time runs out to save them, Packard is forced to reveal his own secrets and dig deep to uncover the dark past of the place he now calls home.

Unrelentingly suspenseful and written with a piercing gaze into the dark depths of the human soul, And There He Kept Her is a thrilling page-turner that introduces readers to a complicated new hero and forces us to consider the true nature of evil.

Review:

And There He Kept Her is a compelling debut mystery by Joshua Moehling.

Jesse Crawford has gotten himself into a situation that threatens his loved ones unless he breaks into a house on the outskirts of Sandy Lake, Minnesota. His girlfriend, Jenny Wheeler, is with him and they accidentally awaken the home owner, Emmett Burr. Emmett has good reason to prevent the teenagers from leaving his property, but what is he willing to do to protect his secrets?

Acting Sheriff Ben Packard is initially not overly concerned when his cousin and Jenny’s mom, Susan, reports her daughter has not returned home after sneaking out. But circumstances soon come to light that add urgency to finding the missing teenager. Ben discovers not too shocking information about Jesse that soon takes to the case in an unexpected direction. With time quickly ticking past, can Ben and his fellow investigator Jill Thielen locate Susan and Jesse before it is too late?

Ben has secrets of his own that he would prefer remain hidden. He has ties to the community that most people have not unearthed. He is also questioning everything about a relationship that tragically ended and left Ben mourning behind closed doors. Will he finally stop hiding a very integral part of who he is and live his life to the fullest?

And There He Kept Her is an intriguing mystery that is quite engrossing. Ben is a multi-layered protagonist whose flaws do not diminish his appeal. He is intelligent and his tenacity drives the investigation. Emmett has few redeeming qualities but his reactions after the break in are somewhat surprising. With time running out, Joshua Moehling brings this well-written mystery to tension-filled conclusion.

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Filed under And There He Kept Her, Contemporary, Joshua Moehling, LGBTQ, Mystery, Poisoned Pen Press, Rated B+, Review

Review: Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Title: Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins comes a funny and surprising new novel about second chances–and why the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous.

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.

Review:

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins is a poignant, humorous and uplifting novel of new beginnings.

Lillie Silva is not looking foraward to her empty nest when her son, Dylan leaves for college. But she has a plan that she hopes will ease her into her new life. She has arranged for a vacation for her and her husband, Brad. When he asks her out to dinner, Lillie plans to surprise her husband with the trip. Instead, she receives the shock of her life when Brad tells her he has met someone else and he wants a divorce. Lillie puts on happy face as she and Brad pretend nothing is wrong between them until Dylan leaves for college. Although Lillie wants nothing more than to try to fix her marriage, Brad is resolute. With their divorce and his upcoming second marriage moving at breakneck speed, Lillie gets a little revenge as she tries to adjust to her new life.

Lillie is a nurse midwife and she loves her job. She never imagined herself as a single woman and she is having trouble adjusting to living alone. Lillie veers between anger and grief as Brad turns into someone she barely recognizes. With her stoic yet loving father and her sister Hannah’s support, she moves through the grief she feels over the end of her marriage.

Lillie also unexpectedly renews her friendship with Ben Hallowell. When she was younger, Ben was a bit of a fixture in her house since he worked with her dad on his fishing boat. They lost touch before Lillie left for college and now her dad’s retired, Ben now owns his mentor’s fishing boat. Lillie discovers a lot about herself and Ben as they get to know one another again.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a thought-provoking novel that touches on a number of topics that are relatable. Lillie is a vibrantly developed character who is flawed but is also stronger than she knows. Dylan is a well-mannered caring young man and he is quite supportive of his mom. Ben is a steady presence who has changed a lot in the intervening years since they last saw one another. Lillie handles her heartbreak in some not so mature ways but those occasions are funny and quite memorable. As she settles into her post-divorce life, she comes to terms with past losses and life-altering events. The plot is multi-layered and  Kristan Higgins brings this captivating novel to a highly satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Kristin Hannah, Out of the Clear Blue Sky, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

Title: A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong
A Rip Through Time Book One
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Historical, Time-Travel, Mystery
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland—in an unfamiliar body—with a killer on the loose.

MAY 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

MAY 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half day off, only to be discovered that night strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one hundred and fifty years before Mallory is strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to her new reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it’s too late.

In A Rip Through Time, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong introduces a brand-new series mixing mystery, romance, and fantasy with thrilling results.

Review:

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong is an outstanding time-travel mystery.

In 2019, Vancouver Homicide Detective Mallory Atkinson is in Scotland to be with her beloved nan who is dying. While taking a much-needed break, Mallory is strangled in an alley and inexplicably travels back in time to 1869 Victorian Scotland. She awakens in the body of housemaid Catriona Mitchell who was murdered in the same place as Mallory’s attack. Unable to figure out how to return to her own life, Mallory uses the excuse of her head injury to explain her “memory loss” about herself and her day-to-day activities. She also uses her modern-day policing knowledge to assist her boss, undertaker Dr. Duncan Gray and his friend Detective Hugh McCreadie, as they work together to solve the murder of a crime beat reporter. Mallory also makes a shocking discovery that will pit her skills against a diabolical killer.

Mallory is an intelligent woman who utilizes numerous skills as she attempts to convince those around her that she is Catriona. But as she has little information about the young woman whose body she inhabits, Mallory  missteps and mistakes t are quite noticeable. She also cannot contain her curiosity about the murders that Gray and McCreadie are trying to solve. Mallory finds an unanticipated ally in Gray’s half-sister Isla Ballantyne who is very much ahead of her time.

A Rip Through Time is an intriguing historical mystery with an ingenious storyline. Mallory is a vibrantly developed protagonist who makes the best of her very unusual circumstances. Duncan, Isla and Hugh are wonderfully drawn secondary characters who are quite appealing. The investigations evenly paced and very interesting. The time period and place are vividly life-like and realistically depicted.  Old and new fans of Kelley Armstrong are sure to enjoy this first installment in the A Rip Through Times series.

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Filed under A Rip Through Time, A Rip Through Time Series, Historical, Kelley Armstrong, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Time Travel

Review: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery

Title: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 435 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery—a story of friends who become family, giving each other courage to start over…

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.

Review:

The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery is an uplifting novel of friendship, new beginnings and love.

Bree Larton, Mikki Bartholomew and Ashely Burton are complete strangers when they meet while looking at a vacant beachfront property. Since none of the women can afford the business space on their own, they rent it together and soon become close friends. Bree owns a thriving bookshop but she is not a fan of authors. Mikki is a divorced mom of two who owns a successful gift shop. Ashley owns a popular bakery and she is in a loving relationship with her boyfriend Seth. All three support each other as they undergo unexpected changes in their personal lives.

Despite becoming friends with Mikki and Ashley, Bree does not talk much about her personal life or her past. She does not have any interest in a relationship so she is surprised when by her growing friendship with popular author Harding Burton. He also runs a non-profit with his friend Dave.  Bree does not want to become romantically entangled with Harding, but will he slip past her formidable defenses?

Mikki’s divorce from her ex-husband Perry was amicable and they have successfully co-parented their now teenage children. Mikki is also still good friends with her in-laws and she and Perry still keep to a few routines from their married days. With encouragement from Bree and Ashley, she makes one last effort with a dating app. Mikki is thrilled with her new romance but is she ready to move on from her former husband?

Ashley and Seth are deeply in love but an unanticipated revelation throws their romance into turmoil. Their very different viewpoints leave her reeling and wondering how they will break their impasse.  Ashely is also surprised by which of their friends she turns to for assistance. This unforeseen turn of events turns out to be life changing for both women but will they figure out how to solve the issues that are troubling them?

The Boardwalk Bookshop is a delightfully charming novel that is quite captivating. The characters are wonderfully life-like with realistic flaws. Their respective problems are relatable with no easy solutions. Bree’s wounds are deep and she is emotionally closed off. Mikki’s comfortable life is shaken by her inability to clearly see how complacent she has become. Ashley must make a difficult choice that she is finding impossible to make. With Bree, Mikki and Ashely’s futures hanging in the balance, Susan Mallery brings this heartwarming novel to an immensely gratifying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Boardwalk Bookshop, Women's Fiction

Review: Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman

Title: Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman
Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Both suspenseful and deeply moving, Carolina Moonset is an engrossing novel about family, memories both golden and terrible, and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden forever, from New York Times bestselling and Emmy Award-winning author, Matt Goldman.

Joey Green has returned to Beaufort, South Carolina, with its palmettos and shrimp boats, to look after his ailing father, who is succumbing to dementia, while his overstressed mother takes a break. Marshall Green’s short-term memory has all but evaporated, but, as if in compensation, his oldest memories are more vivid than ever. His mind keeps slipping backwards in time, retreating into long-ago yesterdays of growing up in Beaufort as a boy.

At first this seems like a blessing of sorts, with the past providing a refuge from a shrinking future, but Joey grows increasingly anxious as his father’s hallucinatory arguments with figures from his youth begin to hint at deadly secrets, scandals, and suspicions long buried and forgotten. Resurfacing from decades past are mysteries that still have the power to shatter lives—and change everything Joey thought he knew.

Especially when a new murder brings the police to his door…

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Review:

Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman is an atmospheric mystery that tugs on the heartstrings.

Joey Green is in Beaufort, SC to help take care of his father, Marshall, whose short-term memory loss leads to a heart wrenching diagnosis. After realizing how exhausted his mom is, he convinces her to take a short vacation with a friend in FL. Joey is distressed by the changes in his father but he remains patient and tries to enjoy this time with his dad. When a murder occurs close to their house and the police attention turns to Marshall, Joey and his neighbor’s daughter, Leela Bellerose, work together to solve the case. Does the key to finding the killer have any relation to events that occurred in his father’s past?

Despite the shock over his father’s illness, Joey and Marshall spend time fishing with his dad’s long-time fishing guide, Bubba. After the murder, he tries to protect his dad from the police as they immediately treat him as a suspect. Marshall’s agitated ramblings provide Joey with important information but can he convince his father to tell him what has him so upset? At the same time, Joey and Leela grow closer, but a future together seems impossible.

Carolina Moonset is an intriguing mystery with plenty of personal moments. The characters are vibrantly drawn and appealing. Marshall’s family and friends’ reaction to his dementia will resonate with readers who have also dealt with this crushing blow. The secrets Joey unearths are true to place and time period. Despite a few missteps from good intentions, the murder investigation is interesting (albeit frustrating at times). Matt Goldman brings this clever mystery to poignant conclusion.

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Filed under Carolina Moonset, Contemporary, Forge Books, Matt Goldman, Mystery, Rated B+, Review