Category Archives: Jenny Milchman

Review: The Second Mother by Jennifer Milchman

Title: The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 454 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Opportunity: Teacher needed in one-room schoolhouse on remote island in Maine. Find the freedom in a fresh start.

Julie Weathers isn’t sure if she’s running away or starting over, but moving to a remote island off the coast of Maine feels right for someone with reasons to flee her old life. The sun-washed, sea-stormed speck of land seems welcoming, the lobster plentiful, and the community close and tightly knit. She finds friends in her nearest neighbor and Callum, a man who appears to be using the island for the same thing as she: escape.

But as Julie takes on the challenge of teaching the island’s children, she comes to suspect that she may have traded one place shrouded in trouble for another, and she begins to wonder if the greatest danger on Mercy Island is its lost location far out to sea, or the people who live there.


The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman is an atmospheric mystery.

Needing a fresh start, Julie Weathers accepts a teaching position on Mercy Island. The isolated island off the coast of Maine is home to the Hempstead family who rules the town with an iron first. Lobstering is a way of life for most of the men but tourist season adds plenty of money to the coffers.

Julie adjusts fairly quickly despite the unnerving fog. Her first night in her home is somewhat eerie but she pushes her unease aside. The next day she meets one of her students, eleven year old Peter Meyers, and his mother Martha Hempstead Meyers. Julie has concerns about the young boy that only increase the more she gets to know him. His grandmother, Maryanne, does not want to discuss her grandson so Julie turns to friend Ellie Newcomb and lobsterman Callum McCarthy for help. Julie soon comes to discover not everything is as it seems, but can she do anything to help those in need?

Julie is determined to begin a new life but she struggles to give up some of her old coping mechanisms.  She eagerly begins teaching and she begins to feel more secure and sure of herself. She has also discussed some of the most painful aspects of her past and Julie is beginning to heal.  She is still worried about Peter but she is also conflicted about him. Neither his mother nor his controlling grandmother are much help, so she asks Callum to join her in her quest for answers.

The secondary characters are interesting and fairly well developed. Ellie is friendly but she might not be the best person for Julie to spend time with under the circumstances. Callum is gruff but caring. Maryanne is harsh and unbending. Peter is a bit of a conundrum but Julie trusts her instincts. Martha is standoffish even with Peter but Julie knows the small family have been through a rough year.

The Second Mother is a mesmerizing mystery. The ever changing weather provides an ominous overtone. The storyline is intriguing but the pacing is a little uneven. Jenny Milchman brings this clever mystery to a dramatic yet satisfying conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this fantastic mystery to readers of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jenny Milchman, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, The Second Mother

Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

Title: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 466 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated backcountry honeymoon seems ideal-a chance to start their lives together with an adventure. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.

Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.

As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. He wants something from them more terrifying than death. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.


Wicked River by Jenny Milchman is an action-packed, suspenseful adventure.

After the wedding of their dreams, Natalie and Doug Larson set out on their honeymoon trip in Adirondack Park. While most people choose a relaxing vacation spot, Doug convinced Natalie that a canoe trip in the isolated wilderness is the perfect beginning for their married life. Natalie immediately has reservations about agreeing to his suggestion, but she gamely follows along. She also allows Doug to avoid answering her questions about a strange argument between his groomsmen and two strangers which took place prior to their wedding ceremony. However, Natalie soon comes to regret both of her decisions when  their idyllic honeymoon goes terribly wrong.

Despite their three year relationship, Natalie has a brief case of wedding jitters right before they exchange their vows. Shrugging off her doubts, she is excited about starting their life together although she wishes she had not agreed to their wilderness honeymoon. Doug manages to smooth over her reservations and once they begin their journey, Natalie is pleasantly surprised by her change of heart. Despite a few unusual occurrences,  their trip is going well until Doug loses a valuable piece of equipment.  His suggestion to change course is out of character, but Natalie is so relieved she does not question his decision. It is only when things begin to go so terribly wrong that Natalie realizes she needs to trust her instincts.

While initially Doug comes across as a loving new husband, there are warnings that all is not quite right with him. He shrewdly sidesteps Natalie’s questions and he effortlessly overrides the few objections she raises. Doug’s answers to her questions are evasive and Natalie is easily satisfied with his partial answers.

Wicked River is a mostly fast-paced novel although there are a few spots where the storyline drags just a bit. Natalie is a likable and sympathetic protagonist but she is much stronger than she gives herself credit for. Doug is not exactly hero material and readers might not agree with the novel’s ending. With plenty of action to propel the storyline, Jenny Milchman brings the novel to an exciting and somewhat dramatic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jenny Milchman, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, Wicked River

Review: As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman

as nightTitle: As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Length: 385 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the acclaimed author of Ruin Falls and Cover of Snow comes a breathless new novel of psychological suspense about a dark, twisted turn of events that could shatter a family—a read perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.

Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.

In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.

Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.

Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.


As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman is a pulse pounding psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the story’s dramatic conclusion.

The night begins like any other night in the Tremont household. Sandy is putting the finishing touches on dinner while waiting for her husband Ben and daughter Ivy to return home. Ivy arrives first and after a bit of an argument with Sandy, she storms upstairs to her room. Sandy and Ben enjoy a rare dinner alone after Ivy refuses to come downstairs and eat with them. However, their evening takes a frightening turn when two strangers enter the secluded house through the unlocked front door as Sandy and Ben are cleaning up the kitchen. The two men, Nick and Harlan, are escaped convicts who want something that only Ben can provide but violence erupts when Ben fights to protect his family from the intruders. Just when it seems nothing else can go wrong, an early snowstorm wreaks havoc on Nick’s plans and the Tremont’s terror continues unabated for the next several hours.

Nick and Harlan are cellmates and although Harlan is the one everyone first fears, it soon becomes apparent that Nick is the brains behind the escape while Harlan supplies the brawn.  Nick is highly intelligent and personable until things begin to spiral out of control and he is quick to respond to any threats with cold, calculated violence. Harlan is a gentle giant but his less than average intelligence leaves him vulnerable to Nick’s manipulation. He obeys Nick without question although he is uncomfortable with what he is being ordered to do.

Sandy is a therapist and she employs some tricks of the trade as she tries to drive a wedge between the two men. Some of her endeavors are moderately successful but she completely underestimates Nick’s ability to read any situation. Many of these attempts backfire, further endangering the family. Ben’s instinct to protect his wife and daughter is overwhelming and he refuses to quit fighting even in the face of escalating violence. Ivy’s survival instincts are equally strong and she never stops trying to escape her captors.

One of the questions that drives the story is understanding why Nick targeted the Tremont family. On the surface, the answer appears clear early on, but the real reason behind Nick’s motive for selecting the Tremont’s is quite shocking. Equally perplexing is the reason the men were incarcerated in the first place. Flashbacks provide valuable insight into Nick’s behavior from the time he was quite young and while it is obvious that he most likely committed a heinous crime, the truth is absolutely stunning. Harlan’s crimes are completely unrelated to Nick’s and surprisingly, he is a very sympathetic character despite his participation in Nick’s twisted plan.

While As Night Falls is not a traditional whodunit, there are numerous secrets to uncover and Jenny Milchman masterfully keeps readers off balance with a number of unexpected plot twists. Cleverly written with plenty of action, this riveting novel poses some very thought-provoking questions about what drives a person to commit acts of violence. A very intriguing high octane thriller that fans of the genre do not want to miss.

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Filed under As Night Falls, Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Jenny Milchman, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Thriller