Category Archives: Harlequin

Review: The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan

Title: The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.

Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.

New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast—before the killer silences him forever.


The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a brilliantly executed mystery from beginning to end.

Three years ago, sorority sister Candace Swain vanishes after a sorority party where she is seen arguing with a few of her friends. She then vanished without a trace and is later found murdered. Police quickly zero in on a suspect but no one has ever been arrested for the crime. Now a senior at the same university, criminology major Lucas Vega’s capstone project is a podcast of Candace’s murder. He is hoping his podcast will jog memories and new evidence will emerge. One of his guests is former US Marshall Regan Merritt whose assistance turns out to be invaluable to the podcast. When callers provide startling new information, will Regan and Vega identify Candace’s killer?

Lucas plays his cards close to his vest when meeting Regan. He is frustrated by the lack of cooperation with Candace’s sorority and faculty advisor Rachel Wagner. Although he does learn new details about the time Candace went missing, he is stressed by the lack of progress he is making. With Regan’s help, new leads begin coming in to the podcast, but will these new clues be enough for him to find everything he wants to know?

Following a personal tragedy, Regan leaves the Marshall Service and returns home. She is currently staying with her father, retired sheriff John Merritt, while she decides her future. Regan is happy to assist Lucas since it helps  take her mind off her own troubles. But she is soon deeply invested in solving Candace’s murder. She knows Lucas is holding something back from her, but she tries to give him the space and time he needs to talk to her. However,  the cold case takes on a new urgency following unexpected new developments. Regan begins to zero in on a suspect but will she and Lucas find the evidence they need for an arrest?

The Sorority Murder is a taut mystery that is full of suspense.  The tension builds with each new clue and missing diary pages fill readers in about previously unknown details. Lucas and Regan are well-drawn, appealing characters who are easy to root for. Regan’s backstory is heartbreaking and she is uncertain what comes next for her. Lucas is smart but not exactly forthcoming with some parts of his personal history. The storyline is well-written and quite engrossing. With an unpredictable plot twist, Allison Brennan brings this spectacular mystery to an edge of the seat conclusion.

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Filed under Allison Brennan, Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Sorority Murder

Review: Forever Home by Elysia Whisler

Title: Forever Home by Elysia Whisler
Dogwood County Series Book Two
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


If home is where the heart is, Dogwood County may have just what Delaney Monroe needs

Newly retired from the Marine Corps, Delaney is looking for somewhere to start over. It’s not going to be easy, but when she finds the perfect place to open her dream motorcycle shop, she goes for it. What she doesn’t expect is an abandoned pit bull to come with the building. The shy pup is slow to trust, but Delaney is determined to win it over.

Detective Sean Callahan is smitten from the moment he sees Delaney, but her cool demeanor throws him off his game. When her late father’s vintage motorcycle is stolen from Delaney’s shop, Sean gets to turn up in his element: chasing the bad guy and showing his best self to a woman who’s gotten under his skin in a bad way.

Delaney isn’t used to lasting relationships, but letting love in—both human and canine—helps her see that she may have found a place she belongs, forever.


Forever Home by Elysia Whisler is a slow-burning romance set in warm, welcoming community. Although this latest release is the second novel in the Dogwood County series, it can be read as a standalone.

After twenty years in the Marines, mechanic Delaney Monroe is putting down roots. She finds the perfect place for her motorcycle shop and her new post-military life. As she is settling in, Delaney is surprised by the off and on appearance of a sweet pit bull. She quickly discovers the former owners abandoned the dog she names Wyatt and the brothers become a thorn in her side.  Still mourning the loss of her beloved father, Delaney plans to enter his vintage motorcycle an upcoming show. When someone steals the motorcycle, Detective Sean Callahan works on her case. The two grow close but will Delaney let him past her formidable defenses?

Sean is still reeling a bit from his divorce so he is a little surprised by how much time he spends thinking about Delaney.  He is not as certain as she is about the thief’s identity since something seems a little odd about the theft. Sean is concerned about the brothers’ continued animosity toward her. Although she can take care of herself, he cannot help but feel protective of her. As they enjoy one another’s company, Sean realizes his feelings from her are growing deeper, but is there are chance for a future with her?

Forever Home is an entertaining romance with appealing characters and adorable canines. Delaney is tough but tender as she settles into civilian life. She is gentle yet firm with a former marine whose path she crossed under difficult circumstances. Sean is charming and not at all put off by Delaney’s sometimes gruff manner. The motorcycle theft is an interesting story arc and ends with a surprising resolution. The community is welcoming and the townspeople are always willing to lend a helping hand. With flawed but likable characters, a sweet romance, and a tantalizing mystery to solve, old and new readers will enjoy Elysia Whisler’s second installment in the Dogwood County series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dogwood County Series, Elysia Whisler, Forever Home, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter

Title: East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


They share countless perfect memories—and one they wish they could forget.

Childhood friends Hannah, Maya, Blue and Renee share a bond that feels more like family. Growing up, they had difficult home lives, and the summers they spent together in Montauk were the happiest memories they ever made. Then, the summer after graduation, one terrible night changed everything.

Twelve years have passed since that fateful incident, and their sisterhood has drifted apart, each woman haunted by her own lost innocence. But just as they reunite in Montauk for one last summer, hoping to find happiness once more, tragedy strikes again. This time it’ll test them like never before, forcing them to confront decisions they’ve each had to live with and old secrets that refuse to stay buried.


East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter is an intriguing novel of friendship and healing.

Twelve years after a tragedy that altered their lives, Hannah, Maya, Blue and Renee have all gone their separate ways. They are still friends but they rarely see one another. When Blue’s grandmother’s beach house is put up for sale, Maya convinces her friends to get together to celebrate their thirtieth birthdays. Although Blue is easy enough to convince, Hannah is reluctant to return to Montauk.  Finally agreeing to join her friends, the women set off for a relaxing weekend together. However, unbeknownst to Blue or Hannah, Maya invited Renee to join them.  Blue is furious since she has not spoken to her former best friend over the years. But Maya and Hannah are happy to see their friend despite the tension between Renee and Blue. With each of the women keeping secrets, will the weekend together heal them and their friendships?

Hannah’s life is not at all what she planned twelve years ago. She adheres to a strict schedule and relies on a plethora of medication and rituals to get through life. She and Maya are best friends but there is some friction between them over the weekend. Hannah instantly regrets agreeing to the trip and as her fears threaten to overwhelm her, will she return to the safe life she has carved out for herself?

Blue is a highly successful stockbroker whose career leaves little time for a personal life. And that is just the way she likes it since she is growing to hate spending time at home. Blue is still nursing her fury at her estranged former best friend, but she has never revealed why she stopped speaking to Renee.  Not one to step out of her comfort zone, she unenthusiastically accepts an old love’s invitation to spend the evening together. Will her long held insecurities ruin Blue’s second chance for a relationship with the man she has never been able to forget?

Maya is impulsive, immature and self-centered. She  flits from one job to another and relies on Blue to help her when she runs into trouble. Her latest problem is of her own making and she is in danger of losing something she holds very dear. Maya often fails to think about the consequences for her actions and she is prone to running away instead of facing her troubles head on. Maya is fiercely loyal and her heart is in the right place when she invites Renee to join them, but will this decision culminate with the results she desires?

Due to their various issues,  their weekend away is anything but relaxing. Hannah’s regrets about both joining her friends and the tragedy years earlier weigh heavily and influence her every decision. Everyone is growing weary of Maya’s behavior but they are quick to forgive her poor choices. Blue is hardened and unforgiving towards Renee but she is grateful for her support. She is both excited and terrified to see her first love again but she cannot silence the negative voice inside her head. Renee is cautious but happy to see her old friends and she is tentatively hopeful the weekend together will mend the rift between her and Blue.

Alternating between different perspectives, East Coast Girls is an angsty novel that touches on several relatable topics. The characters are interesting but all of them remain stuck in the past. They are supportive of and genuinely care for each other.  Over the course of their weekend, secrets are revealed and Kerry Kletter brings the novel to a hopeful conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, East Coast Girls, Harlequin, Kerry Kletter, Mira, Rated C, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Secrets from a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates

Title: Secrets from a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates’s new novel introduces the women of the Lighthouse Inn B&B. They might not have it all together, but this summer, they’ll discover that together, they might still have it all…

Rachel Henderson’s family is falling apart. Becoming a widow—especially at this age—is heartbreaking. With her teenage daughter, Emma, leaving soon for college, Rachel needs a friend—but local diner owner Adam is the last person she ever thought she’d lean on.

From the outside, her little sister, Anna, has a picture-perfect marriage. But the weight of it is suffocating her. The only way for her to breathe again comes at a high price, one she’s not so sure she can pay.

After raising two daughters on her own, their mother, Wendy, knows just how hard life can be. She’s done things she’s not proud of, things she desperately wants to keep from her girls—until keeping quiet is no longer an option.

As long-held secrets bubble up and their old lives unravel, this family will need all their strength to start again and open their hearts up to the possibility of more. But most of all, they’ll need each other…


Secrets from a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates is a multi-generational novel of  new beginnings and healing.

Rachel Henderson gladly dedicated her life to caring for her beloved husband, Jacob. But after he sadly passes away, she finds herself wondering who she is without someone to take care of. Their teenage daughter Emma is about to graduate from high school and at summer’s end, she will be leaving the nest for college.  Rachel struggles to accept these inevitable changes while deciding what she wants for her future.

Meanwhile Rachel’s younger sister Anna’s marriage to pastor Thomas Martin  has just imploded in a very public way. She has been unhappy with Thomas for quite some time and he has ignored her attempts to salvage their floundering marriage. In the aftermath,  Anna’s relationship with Rachel hits a rough spot but she is gratified by her niece Emma’s support. Facing down gossip and outrage from their some people in their small town, Anna forges an unexpected path for herself after coming to terms with the end of her marriage.

Emma is torn between following her dream and being there for her mother.  She is also stretching her wings much to her mom’s consternation. Emma is also experiencing young love for the first time and this new relationship might complicate her plans for the future. Despite a few volatile moments between mother and daughter, Emma is finally making peace with the decisions she is making for herself.

Rachel and Anna’s mother Wendy started over after she was selected to run the Lighthouse B&B when her daughters were very young. She is well-liked and respected by her fellow business owners, so she is shocked and angered by some of their vitriolic comments about Anna.  She is protective of her daughters but following an unpleasant confrontation, Wendy realizes she needs to be honest with them about her own secrets. Wendy has not had time for relationships so she is a little surprised by the realization her interest in a guest runs deeper than professional. But after years on her own, Wendy is uncertain whether she should act on their mutual attraction.

Secrets from a Happy Marriage is an engaging novel with a wonderful cast of characters and an interesting storyline. Each of the women is quite contemplative as they work their way through their respective issues. Their various relationships with one another are realistically depicted and they have relatable problems to overcome. Maisey Yates brings this heartwarming novel to an uplifting conclusion. I enjoyed and recommend this charming novel to readers of contemporary fiction.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B, Review, Secrets from a Happy Marriage, Women's Fiction

Review: Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

Title: Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Set in the stunning coastal town of Half Moon Bay, California, Robyn Carr’s new novel examines the joys of sisterhood and the importance of embracing change.


Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr is a delightful novel of healing and new beginnings.

Thirty two year old Adele “Addie” Descaro is struggling to restart her life after caring for her elderly parents for eight years. She moved back home before finishing her master’s program and she is at loss while trying to figure out a new career path.  Making a decision becomes imperative when her fifty-two year old sister Justine Somersby informs her she might not be able to continue helping Adele financially.

Justine is a lawyer who works long hours to support her husband Scott and their teenage daughters, Amber and Olivia.  She also does more than her fair share of the work around the house as Scott works part-time and participates in multiple sports.  After making a shocking discovery, Justine makes many changes in her life that bring her and Adele surprisingly closer.

Over the years, Adele has given up spending time with anyone except for her family and close friend Jake Bronski. She has also never quite recovered from a broken heart and tragic loss that occurred at the same time she moved home to care for her parents.  Adele is uncertain about how to jumpstart her career while also fixing up the family home.  Finally motivated to make some positive changes, she is soon putting her plans in motion for her future. But Adele is a little surprised to find that making professional decisions is much easier than taking charge of her personal life.

Justine is decisive and no nonsense as she makes plans for her future.  Surprisingly resilient in spite of painful circumstances, she is undergoing a period of discovery during a difficult time.  Despite the unexpected changes,  Justine grows more confident as the months pass.

With both sisters undergoing many changes, Justine and Adele welcome a newfound closeness between them.  Addie embraces the opportunity to strengthen her bonds with her nieces and sister. But she struggles a little with the choices she needs to make and she is a bit disconcerted when her relationship with Jake grows a little strained.  When Addie’s past collides with her present, will she finally gain the perspective she needs to move forward?

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay is a wonderful novel about overcoming adversity and starting over when life throws unexpected curves. Old and new fans of Robyn Carr are sure to enjoy this family-centric novel.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B, Review, Sunrise on Half Moon Bay, Women's Fiction

Review: One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak

Title: One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Some families we’re born into

Some we find for ourselves

When Serenity Alston swabbed her cheek for 23andMe, she joked about uncovering some dark ancestral scandal. The last thing she expected was to discover two half sisters she didn’t know existed. Suddenly, everything about her loving family is drawn into question. And meeting these newfound sisters might be the only way to get answers.

The women decide to dig into the mystery together at Serenity’s family cabin in Lake Tahoe. With Reagan navigating romantic politics at work and Lorelei staring down the collapse of her marriage, all three women are converging at a crossroads in their lives. Before the summer is over, they’ll have to confront the past and determine how to move forward when everything they previously thought to be true was a lie. But any future is easier to face with family by your side.


One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak is a captivating novel about three half-sisters and the challenges facing them as they get to know one another.

Serenity Alston is a true crime writer who unexpectedly discovers half-sisters Reagan Sands and Lorelei Cipriano after taking a popular DNA test. Having decided to spend a week at her family’s Lake Tahoe cabin with her sisters, Serenity is nervous about meeting Reagan and Lorelei face to face. Serenity is also struggling with the events of the past year and a half which she has managed to keep out of the public eye.  Suffering from writer’s block, Serenity is hoping to salvage her career after getting to know her sisters.

Lorelei is the midst of a marriage crisis when she and her four year old daughter Lucy head to Lake Tahoe. She is uncertain what the future holds for her and her husband, Mark, and she ignores his numerous attempts to convince her to return home.  Having grown up in the foster care system, Lorelei is thrilled to get to know her half-sisters, but she is also resentful her childhood was so different from theirs. Of the three women, Lorelei undergoes the most growth as she decides the fate of her marriage and her future.

Reagan is a workaholic who deeply regrets an impetuous decision she recently made.  She, too, is trying to figure out what do in the aftermath. Reagan is afraid her mother  will be deeply disappointed in her.  After the sisters decide to extend their time together, Reagan must come to terms with the unintended consequences of her actions.

Despite their very disparate lives, Serenity, Lorelei and Reagan slowly form a tight bond with one another. Even when they are on opposite sides of an issue, they are supportive of each other.  Serenity is grateful for Reagan’s career advice  and her unanticipated generous offer to help her. Although Reagan is reluctant to confide in her sisters, she is pleasantly surprised by their reactions to her unanticipated news. Lorelei values her sisters’ input as she weighs the pros and cons of staying with Mark.

Over the course of the summer, Serenity, Lorelei and Reagan try to piece together who their father is. Serenity is extremely curious because her parents have been happily married for decades. Reagan’s father died when she was very young and her mother refuses to discuss the past. As for Lorelei, she has no information at all about her parents since she entered  the foster care system at a very young age. They entertain various theories but will the sisters figure out who their father is before summer’s end?

One Perfect Summer is a heartfelt and engaging novel with a fantastic set of characters and interesting storyline. Each of the sisters is three dimensional with relatable flaws and enviable strengths.  Their respective issues are true to life and the resolutions to their problems are realistic. The sisters’ relationships develop  naturally over time and they sometimes struggle with one another’s mistakes and decisions.  With a jaw-dropping, impossible to predict plot twist, Brenda Novak brings this heartwarming novel to an absolutely delightful conclusion.   I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this charming novel to readers of contemporary fiction.

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Filed under Brenda Novak, Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, One Perfect Summer, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction