Category Archives: Kensington Books

Review: The Secrets We Share by Edwin Hill

Title: The Secrets We Share by Edwin Hill
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 323 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A mesmerizing, twisty suspense novel perfect for fans of Mary Kubica and Riley Sager from an acclaimed author! Explore the deep bonds—and deadly secrets—between two very different sisters haunted by the crimes of their father murdered nearly twenty years earlier…

At first glance, Natalie Cavanaugh and Glenn Abbott hardly look like sisters. Even off-duty, Natalie dresses like a Boston cop, preferring practical clothes and unfussy, pinned-up hair. Her younger sister, Glenn, seems tailor-made for the spotlight, from her signature red mane to her camera-ready smile. Glenn has spent years cultivating her brand through her baking blog, and with the publication of her new book, that hard work seems about to pay off. But her fans have no idea about the nightmare in Glenn and Natalie’s past.

Twenty years ago, their father’s body was discovered in the woods behind their house. A trauma like that doesn’t fit with Glenn’s public image. Yet, maybe someone reading her blog does know something. There have been anonymous online messages, vague yet ominous, hinting that she’s being watched. And with unsettling coincidences hitting ever closer to home, both Glenn and Natalie soon have more pressing matters to worry about, especially when a dead body is found in an abandoned building . . .

Natalie is starting to wonder how much Glenn really knows about the people closest to her. But are there also secrets Natalie has yet to uncover about those she herself trusts? For two decades, she’s believed their father was murdered by their neighbor, with whom he was having an affair. But if those events are connected to what’s happening now, maybe there’s much more that Natalie doesn’t know. About their father. About their neighbors. About her friends. Maybe even about herself.

But there are no secrets between sisters . . . are there?


The Secrets We Share by Edwin Hill is a complex, suspense-laden thriller.

Forty-four-year-old Boston Detective Natalie Cavanaugh and her sister, Glenn Abbott, have never quite left behind the ghosts of their past. Their father was murdered when they were teenagers and the case still remains unsolved. Suspicion first fell on their mother but after rumors began spreading that he was having an affair with their neighbor, Diane Sykes, police changed their focus to her instead. As adults, Glenn and Natalie both deal with their childhood in very different ways.

Natalie drinks too much in an effort to tamp down her memories. She also keeps a tight rein on her emotions and eschews personal relationships. Natalie keeps a low profile at work and shies away from cases that would put her in the spotlight. Glenn, on the other hand, is a popular food blogger with a book that is on the verge of release. Her once happy marriage has hit a rough spot that she and her husband may or may not recover from. Her daughter Mavis is more observant than either or her parents believe. She is also very smart and thinks on her feet.

Natalie has many conflicts of interest in the case she is working with her partner Detective Zane Perez. A beloved member of her family discovered the body of a murdered man in an abandoned building. And the investigation leads straight to someone else she knows, Bennet Jones. He is the business partner of her brother-in-law, Jake. Her boss, Lieutenant Angela White, orders her off the case but she and Zane know that Natalie is most likely going to poke around on her own. Of course, they are right but will they be grateful for her help when the investigation takes many unexpected detours?

The Secrets We Share is an edge of the seat thriller with a multi-layered storyline. Natalie is a highly intelligent and very clever detective. She is not without flaws but she is a sympathetic, likable woman. The secondary characters are realistically developed with relatable human foibles. Lt. White is an outstanding boss who is fair with those who work for her. The investigation is intriguing and moves at an even pace.  With stunning twists and diabolical turns, Edwin Hill brings this cunning thriller to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Edwin Hill, Kensington Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Secrets We Share, Thriller

Review: The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart

Title: The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 376 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Four Winds as award-winning author Donna Everhart’s latest novel immerses readers in its unique setting—the turpentine camps and pine forests of the American South during the Great Depression. This captivating story of friendship, survival, and three vagabonds’ intersecting lives will stay with readers long after turning the final page.

It takes courage to save yourself…

In the dense pine forests of North Carolina, turpentiners labor, hacking into tree trunks to draw out the sticky sap that gives the Tar Heel State its nickname, and hauling the resin to stills to be refined. Among them is Rae Lynn Cobb and her husband, Warren, who run a small turpentine farm together.

Though the work is hard and often dangerous, Rae Lynn, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, is thankful for it–and for her kind if careless husband. When Warren falls victim to his own negligence, Rae Lynn undertakes a desperate act of mercy. To keep herself from jail, she disguises herself as a man named “Ray” and heads to the only place she can think of that might offer anonymity–a turpentine camp in Georgia named Swallow Hill.

Swallow Hill is no easy haven. The camp is isolated and squalid, and commissary owner Otis Riddle takes out his frustrations on his browbeaten wife, Cornelia. Although Rae Lynn works tirelessly, she becomes a target for Crow, the ever-watchful woods rider who checks each laborer’s tally. Delwood Reese, who’s come to Swallow Hill hoping for his own redemption, offers “Ray” a small measure of protection, and is determined to improve their conditions. As Rae Lynn forges a deeper friendship with both Del and Cornelia, she begins to envision a path out of the camp. But she will have to come to terms with her past, with all its pain and beauty, before she can open herself to a new life and seize the chance to begin again.


The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart is a captivating historical novel which takes place in the turpentine camps of Georgia during the Depression.

Delwood “Del” Reese is a hard worker but his penchant for womanizing soon becomes his downfall. Barely escaping with his life, he lives an itinerant life before hiring on at a Georgia turpentine camp. Del immediately upsets the status quo by working alongside the Black men who “cat face” the pine trees. He and woods rider Crow intensely dislike one another and their rivalry intensifies after Del’s promotion makes them equals.

Rae Lynn and Warren Cobb have a small turpentine operation on their farm in North Carolina. Rae Lynn works as hard as Warren because of their lack of workers. Warren is well known for his clumsiness and eventually he is in a tragic accident. Rae Lynn flees the farm disguised as man so she can work in a turpentine camp in Georgia. Through a series of unfortunate and almost deadly events, Rae Lynn’s deception is discovered.

Commissary owner’s wife Cornelia Riddle is stuck in an abusive marriage but meeting Rae Lynn becomes a saving grace. Despite her best efforts not to anger her husband, she is often the target of his frustration. When Rae Lynn’s deception is uncovered, their friendship is the only thing that makes her life tolerable. With Del and Rae Lynn’s encouragement, Cornelia makes a decision that is truly life changing.

The Saints of Swallow Hill is an atmospheric historical novel that is quite fascinating. The various characters are vividly drawn and for the most part, very appealing. Rae Lynn has not had an easy life but she is compassionate and stands by her convictions. Del undergoes tremendous growth after his life altering experience. Cornelia is a sympathetic character that is caught in untenable situation.  The turpentine camp work is hard, the conditions deplorable and workers are often in debt to the company who hires them.  In spite of the hardship and poverty, Donna Everhart brings this vibrant, historically accurate novel to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Donna Everhart, Historical, Historical (30s), Kensington Books, Rated B+, Review, The Saints of Swallow Hill

Review: Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

Title: Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 404 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Fans of Lisa Unger and Allen Eskens won’t want to miss this thrilling new suspense novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Taken! Hiding her own dark past in plain sight, a TV reporter is determined to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder decades after the investigation was abandoned. But TWENTY YEARS LATER, to understand the present, you need to listen to the past…

Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life just the beginning. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

Accused of a brutal murder, Victoria Fordmade a final chilling call from theNorth Tower on the morning of 9/11.
Twenty years ago, no one listened.
Today, you will.
TWENTY YEARS LATER, to understand the present, you need to listen to the past…


Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea is a twist-filled mystery.

In 2001, Victoria Ford is the primary suspect in the murder of her married lover, author Cameron Young. She proclaims her innocence but before she can prove it in a court of law, Victoria is a victim of the 9/11 attack. She makes her last phone call to her sister Emma Kind who is, twenty years later, still attempting to clear her sister’s name. Now that Victoria is a confirmed victim of the 9/11 attack, Avery Mason agrees to investigate the case for an upcoming episode on her popular TV show, American Events.

Now on summer hiatus, Avery drives across country from California to New York before looking into the Young murder. She finds unexpected assistance from now retired FBI Agent Walt Jenkins. Avery completely enjoys matching wits with Walt, but she must hold much of herself back from him due to her own unexpectedly well-kept secret. She was already planning a trip to New York in an attempt to put her own past to rest.

From the shocking opening scene to the last page, Twenty Years Later is a suspense-laden, unpredictable mystery. The storyline is multi-layered and full of tension. The characters are likable with interesting backstories and unexpected secrets. The story moves at a breathtaking pace and Charlie Donlea brings this intriguing mystery to an astonishing conclusion.

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Filed under Charlie Donlea, Contemporary, Kensington Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Twenty Years Later

Review: Her New Story by Laura Bradford

Title: Her New Story by Laura Bradford
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From USA Today bestselling author Laura Bradford comes a poignant, uplifting novel about an investigative reporter who will do anything to nail a story—until her world comes crashing down—landing her on assignment in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, where she’s forced to re-think her priorities, and her life.

Tess Baker thought she had the perfect everything—until her best friend, and (now ex) husband, betrayed her, leaving her with nothing, except her career as an investigative reporter. In her work for a leading magazine, Tess can lose herself in whatever story she’s chasing. So she’s devastated when her next assignment is far from the exciting location or action-packed quest she anticipated.

Thanks to a recent misstep, Tess is handed a bus ticket to Pennsylvania—to Amish country. The story? Write about living in the past in a modern-day world. Determined to prove herself by coming up with something juicier than a run-of-the-mill human-interest piece, Tess makes her way through this strange place, digging for dirt . . .

Yet no matter where she turns, scandal eludes her. Instead, Tess encounters kindness and grace, even striking up unexpected friendships with women who bear a wisdom and capacity for forgiveness she can’t imagine. It’s only when she meets eighty-something Miss Lottie, beloved by the community even after decades away, that Tess realizes she may have hit upon the story she was looking for. But can she betray the people who have opened their arms—and their hearts—for the sake of a scoop?  


Her New Story by Laura Bradford is an engaging novel of healing, friendship and love.

After going through a terrible betrayal by people she trusted most, Tess Baker is broken-hearted and understandably bitter. She is an investigative reporter for In Depth magazine and she is looking forward to the yearly assignment meeting. Unfortunately, Tess’s personal drama has spilled over into her career and instead of a plum assignment, she is going to Amish country in Pennsylvania. Tess is upset but if she wants to keep her job, she will have to spend one month working with her host family, Naomi and Isaiah King. Adjusting to Plain life is not easy but she does enjoy spending time with Naomi and her friend and mentor Max “Murph” Murphy is just a text or phone call away. Cynical about love and unable to trust anyone, will Tess find a story that will salvage her career?

Tess is very resentful about her assignment but she is polite to everyone she meets. She is quite cynical and she always looks for hidden meaning within the Amish community. Tess is very stubborn as she searches for an explosive, juicy secret that will be the focus of her article. Murph is her sounding board but he is not always in favor of the angle she is going for.

Tess eventually sets her sights on Miss Lottie, who is an elderly lady that everyone raves about. She dispenses helpful advice whenever someone needs a new perspective on the whatever is troubling them. Of course, Tess does not believe that Miss Lottie is as altruistic as the women she meets believes. Convinced she knows what Miss Lottie is hiding, Tess begins looking for her “smoking gun”.  With the help of local Jack Cloverton, Tess discovers more than she expects as unearths the truth about Miss Lottie. She also learns valuable life lessons that might just alter her need to protect herself against further heartache.

Her New Story is a thought-provoking journey of self-discovery. Tess is so determined to guard her heart that she is a little difficult to like. She has strong opinions and she is not easily moved from these beliefs. The Amish community and the women she meets are absolutely delightful (especially Rueben!). The setting is quite tranquil with a slower pace of life than Tess is used to. But she quickly adapts and slowly comes to enjoy the peace and quiet. Tess undergoes quite the transformation during her assignment but will she take the lessons she learns when she returns home? With unexpected revelations, Laura Bradford brings this poignant, captivating novel to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Her New Story, Kensington Books, Laura Bradford, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French

Title: The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In Colleen French’s heartfelt summer read, a Delaware oceanside cottage is the perfect setting for a season of surprising lessons about how much there is to gain—when you finally let go . . .

In the last two years, English professor Ellen Tolliver has weathered heartache with grace—including an unwelcome divorce and losing her parents. In her more honest moments, Ellen might admit that she’s sick of loss. She longs to stretch and grow, to truly fill her days. Maybe this year, she’ll have something to recount in her Christmas letter other than her son’s travel adventures. Maybe she’ll be too busy to even write a Christmas letter.

On impulse, Ellen invites her ailing best friend, Lara, to spend the summer with her at the Delaware beach house she inherited from her parents. Lara can relax on the big front porch after chemo while Ellen readies the house for sale. But Lara has plans too—she’d like to help Ellen discover who she is, or better yet, who she can still become.

At Lara’s urging, Ellen joins a local writer’s group, tries online dating, and mingles with the new friends Lara brings home from her support group. She forgoes white wine (won’t stain if you spill it!) for red and eats French fries for breakfast. She even flirts with the local bookstore owner, a handsome, sun-kissed, younger man. And as she embraces the freedom that comes with breaking her own rules, she wonders if it’s not just her past that lies in this beloved quirky town, but her future too . . .


The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French is a poignant novel of self-discovery and friendship.

English professor Ellen Tolliver is still getting over her divorce and the recent loss of both her parents. She is fairly staid and not exactly adventuresome or spontaneous. Ellen keeps her emotions tightly in check and does not deviate from her somewhat rigid rules and viewpoints. She is attempting to write a novel but she just cannot seem to settle on what story she wants to tell. With the summer looming ahead of her, Ellen plans to get the family beach house ready to put on the market. However, she learns right before departing that her lifelong best friend Lara’s cancer is no longer in remission. Ellen asks Lara to join her and she will take care of her as she undergoes chemotherapy.

Lara is much livelier and more outgoing than Ellen. She tries to prod Ellen out of her comfort zone, but she is not surprised at her friend’s refusal. Lara appreciates all of Ellen’s help and their friendship is very dear to her. But as she undergoes her chemo treatments, she meets an incredible group of diverse people who soon begin to rely on each other through their cancer journeys. They meet at Ellen’s beach house and while she is initially consumed with various worries, she soon becomes friends with them as well. It is through their friendship that Ellen begins to discover what living is all about.

The Summer I Found Myself is a very touching novel with an engaging storyline and idyllic setting. The cast of characters is rather eclectic and quite endearing. Ellen is initially not the most likable person but as she begins to loosen up, she becomes much easier to like. Lara and her new friends are a formidable group of very wise people. Colleen French brings heartwarming and emotional novel to a bit of an abrupt yet mostly satisfactory conclusion.

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Filed under Colleen French, Contemporary, Kensington Books, Rated B+, Review, The Summer I Found Myself, Women's Fiction

Review: Watch Her by Edwin Hill

Title: Watch Her by Edwin Hill
Hester Thursby Mystery Series Book Three
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Fans of Ruth Ware and B.A. Paris won’t want to miss this complex psychological thriller from an acclaimed author about a powerful Boston family desperate to keep their darkest secrets from coming to light.

While attending a gala at Prescott University’s lavish new campus, Hester Thursby and fellow guest, Detective Angela White, are called to the home of the college’s owners, Tucker and Jennifer Matson. Jennifer claims that someone broke into Pinebank, their secluded mansion on the banks of Jamaica Pond. The more Hester and Angela investigate, the less they believe Jennifer’s story, leaving Hester to wonder why she would lie.

When Hester is asked by the college’s general manager to locate some missing alumni, she employs her research skills on the family and their for-profit university. Between financial transgressions, a long-ago tragedy, and rumors of infidelity, it’s clear that the Matsons aren’t immune to scandal or mishap. But when one of the missing students turns up dead, the mystery takes on new urgency.

Hester is edging closer to the truth, but as a decades-old secret collides with new lies, a killer grows more determined to keep the past buried with the dead. . . .


Watch Her by Edwin Hill is a multi-layered mystery that is quite riveting.  Although this newest release is the third installment in the Hester Thursby Mystery series, it can be as a standalone.

Hester Thursby and her not husband Morgan Maguire attend a for profit college’s  opening with their friend Detective Angela White. During the evening, the college owner’s wife, Jennifer Matson, reports a burglary at their home to her friend and college administrator, Maxine Pawlikowki. Maxine requests Angela’s assistance and they, along with Hester, try to figure out what occurred at Jennifer’s house. Both Hester and Angela are skeptical of her story after their search turns up no evidence anything is missing. Within a few days, Maxine asks Hester to uncover what happened to some of the university alumni who seem to have vanished.

Due to some very close calls in previous cases, Hester is making more of an effort to remain safe while she tries to unearth the truth about what is going on at Prescott University. She is also making progress with opening up to Morgan about her past. Despite their long standing relationship, Hester has been very tight-lipped about herself. In the process of revealing important details about herself, she is also discovering new information about Morgan. Coming to terms with her past is imperative to some important decisions Hester is contemplating.

With Hester on the sidelines, Angela becomes interested in events from the Matson family’s past. Her boss is Maxine’s brother, Stan, and she is shocked to learn he worked a case involving the Matsons in the late nineties. Treading very lightly, Angela has a lot of questions about that investigation and she requests Hester’s assistance to find answers.

Watch Her is a captivating mystery that takes many twists and turns. Hester, Morgan and Angela continue to grow and evolve which adds much more depth to their respective characters. Hester and Angela’s cases eventually entwine after a tragic murder. With long-held secrets in danger of being exposed, Edwin Hill brings this intriguing mystery to a dramatic conclusion.  I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this latest addition to the Hester Thursby Mystery series fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Edwin Hill, Hester Thursby Mystery Series, Kensington Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Suspense, Watch Her