Category Archives: Rated B

Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Suspense
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a thrilling YA novel about trying to right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known—until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice—go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Review:

Daughter by Kate McLaughlin is a brilliantly clever young adult novel.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlet Murphy is an excellent student who chafes against her mom Gina’s strict rules.  Scarlet suffers from anxiety and sometimes turns to unhealthy ways to manage it. But when the FBI shows up on their doorstep, her typical worries fly in the face of discovering the truth her mother has been keeping from her. Scarlet is the daughter of prolific serial killer Jeffrey Lake and her mom was married to him while he was actively kidnapping and murdering young women. Lake has been on death row for several years and now that he is dying, he will only reveal the names and locations of his other victims to Scarlet. Wrestling with her conscience, Scarlet decides to meet with him so the families of the victims can put their loved ones to rest. But does Lake have any intention of living up to his end of their bargain?

Scarlet’s horrifying visits with her father are juxtaposed against her introduction to grandparents and other family members. Despite her anger at her mother for keeping her past a secret, she relies on Gina’s support after Lake’s vile revelations. Scarlet is grateful for her new friendships with FBI Agent Andy Logan’s kids, Darcy and Luke. Agent Logan also gives her advice that help provide a new perspective on the secrets she has recently learned.

Daughter is an engrossing young adult that is very suspenseful. Scarlet grows and evolves throughout her sometimes-contentious meetings with Lake. She is also more understanding of her mother’s past behavior while also being a little angry about Gina’s deception. Lake is a thoroughly reprehensible man who is not to be trusted under any circumstances. Kate McLaughlin brings this thought-provoking novel to an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion. Recommended for older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, Daughter, Kate McLaughlin, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Title: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Bellinger Sisters Series Book Two
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

Review:

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey is a charming friends to lovers romance. Although this novel is the second installment in the Bellinger Sisters series, it can be read as a standalone.

Hannah Bellinger lives with her wealthy family and works in L.A. as a production assistant. She has a long-term crush on co-worker and has her sights on moving to music production. After helping her sister Piper renovate the family bar in Westport, WA, Hannah has maintained a fun, music-filled texting relationship with fisherman, Fox Thornton. When the current project she is working on moves to Westport, Hannah and Fox discover there is more to their friendship but will they act on their simmering attraction?

Fox has a reputation as someone who likes to have a good time. He has also done everything he can to live up to his love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. Fox’s friend and owner of the fishing boat he works on would like to give him more responsibility, but he fears his lifestyle will impact his ability to lead the crew.

Piper stays with Fox while in town which provides them to learn more about one another. Piper is surprisingly protective of Fox during some encounters with the townspeople. She also gathers her courage to assert herself more at work but whether or not this will alter her career path is up in the air. Meanwhile, Fox struggles to with low self-worth as he contemplates a future with Piper and possible opportunities at work.

Hook, Line, and Sinker is a marvelous slow-burn romance. Hannah and Fox are appealing characters with relatable flaws. The banter between the various characters is laugh out loud funny. The storyline is well-developed but a little slow paced at times. Although the conflict is somewhat predictable, this does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the story. Tessa Bailey brings this endearing romance to a completely satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Avon, Bellinger Sisters Series Book Two, Contemporary, Hook Line and Sinker, Rated B, Review, Romance, Tessa Bailey

Review: The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George

Title: The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Caroline George once again transports readers with lush, evocative prose, leading them to ask the question: what happens when we can’t even trust ourselves?

Some memories are better left forgotten.

Darby and Morgan haven’t spoken for two years, and their friend group has splintered. But when the body of their former science teacher is found in the marsh where they attended camp that summer, they realize they have more questions than answers . . . and even fewer memories.

No one remembers–or no one is talking.

The group of reunited friends suspects that a murderer is stalking the coastal highway 30A, and they are desperate to recover their memories as quickly as possible . . . before their history they can’t remember repeats itself.

Everyone has a secret.

As tensions rise and time runs out, Darby and Morgan begin to wonder if they can believe one another . . . or if they can even trust themselves.

Review:

The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George is an intriguing young adult mystery.

Darby and Morgan’s friendship ended two summers ago when their science teacher, Dr. Richard Herowitz, disappeared. Their rift also altered their group friendship in the aftermath of their curious summer counselor job at Camp Choctawhatchee.  When Herowitz’s body is discovered, the group of friends realize none of them have many memories of what happened at the camp. As they work together to uncover the truth about Herowitz’s death, will they also repair their friendships?

The Summer We Forgot is a fast-paced young adult mystery that is very engrossing. The perspectives alternate between Morgan and Darby’s points of view. The addition of police interviews adds interesting details about the teens and their recollections of what happened at Camp Choctawhatchee. With themes of forgiveness and parental expectations, Caroline George brings this clever mystery to a twist-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Caroline George, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Summer We Forgot, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Sniffing Out Danger by Elizabeth Heiter

Title: Sniffing Out Danger by Elizabeth Heiter
K-9s on Patrol Series Book Two
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

Her first big case…
Could be her last.

When former big-city cop Ava Callan stumbles upon a bomb, she seizes the chance to prove herself. Not only to the small-town police department where she’s transitioning to become a K-9 handler…but especially to charming lead investigator Eli Thorne. The only thing more explosive than her chemistry with the out-of-town captain? The danger menacing them at every turn…

From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Discover more action-packed stories in the K-9s on Patrol series. All books are stand-alone with uplifting endings but were published in the following order:

Book 1: Decoy Training by Caridad Piñeiro
Book 2: Sniffing Out Danger by Elizabeth Heiter
Book 3: Foothills Field Search by Maggie Wells
Book 4: Alpha Tracker by Cindi Myers
Book 5: Scent Detection by Leslie Marshman

Review:

Sniffing Out Danger by Elizabeth Heiter is an intriguing romantic suspense set in a small town. Although this release is the second installment in the K-9s on Patrol ­series, the multi author books stand on their own.

K-9 Officer Ava Callan is a Chicago transplant now living in Jasper, Idaho. She does not feel as if she fits in and being assigned a K-9 partner makes her feel isolated from her fellow officers. Ava and police dog Lacey are making a welfare check when they find what appears to be a bomb. The police department does not have an explosives expert so they request the assistance of McCall police department Captain Eli Thorne to assist them. He and Ava work closely with her fellow officers Brady Nichols and Jason Wright to find the bomber before disaster strikes.

After closing a big narcotics case with the Chicago PD, Ava is ready for a change. She has adjusted to the slower pace of life but Ava is finding it difficult to make friends. Ava keeps to herself and she is really enjoying having Lacey with her. She knows she is not Eli’s first choice for the team, so Ava is surprised by how well they work together.

Eli knows time is not on their side as he and the Jasper PD try to find their bomber. Their first person of interest is bartender Jennilyn Sanderson.  She has not been in town long but she is familiar to the police department. While Jennilyn has been in a little bit of trouble because she does not hesitate to jump in the fray when necessary.  Will Ava and Eli locate her before another bomb detonates?

Sniffing Out Danger is the perfect blend of romance and suspense. Ava and Eli are well-drawn, multi-faceted characters. Eli is a bit dismayed that Ava is impervious to his attempts to charm her. Their search for the bomber throws them together which provides them the opportunity to get know each other. Their simmering attraction underlies the fast-paced investigation to catch the bomber. With an unexpectedly dangerous plot twist, Elizabeth Heiter brings this thrilling romantic suspense story to a heartfelt conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Elizabeth Heiter, Harlequin Intrigue, K-9s on Patrol Series, Rated B, Review, Romantic Suspense, Sniffing Out Danger

Review: Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott

Title: Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Mystery
Length: 351 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

This “captivating thriller full of twists and surprises” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author)—about what happens when the death of a husband and father isn’t the tragedy everyone believes—is perfect for fans of the Netflix original series Dead to Me.

Emma Walsh has finally worked up the courage to confront her husband James about his drinking—his alcoholic rages, his blackouts, and the fear his behavior has created for her and their two kids. But James never shows up to meet her as planned, and all her righteous words go unsaid. And unsaid they remain, because the next time Emma sees James, his body lies crumpled amidst the wreckage of his flashy car, which has been smashed to its final resting place halfway through the back wall of their suburban house’s roomy garage.

In the aftermath of the fatal crash, Emma and her teenage children begin to embrace life without James’s looming, volcanic presence. Buoyed by the support of her two closest friends, she struggles to deal with her grief, complicated by the knowledge that her husband’s legacy as an upstanding business owner and family man shines only because so many people, for so long, were so willing to keep his secrets—secrets that twist into new and unexpected shapes as the mysterious details of his last day of life begin to come to light.

A sinister and suspenseful domestic thriller, lauded as “stylish” by Publishers Weekly and “delicious” by BooklistWish You Were Gone will keep you guessing “until not just the last page, but the last paragraph” (Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author)

Review:

Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott is an engrossing domestic mystery.

Emma Walsh is absolutely furious when her husband James does not show up to the restaurant for dinner. She is planning to hand over divorce papers to her alcoholic, abusive husband but after waiting for him, she returns home. She is a little surprised when he does not answer any of her texts but she is unconcerned enough to go to bed before he returns home. Emma is awakened in the middle of the night by what turns out to be her drunken husband crashing his car into their garage. Although the police are satisfied his death is just a tragic accident, Emma is not so sure after discovering some little things that do not add up. But that leaves her wondering who would have reason to kill James?

Emma can barely remember when her marriage was happy. James is drastically different from the kind-hearted man she married and she knows it is time to end the marriage. When Emma finds the first thing that is not consistent with James’ typical behavior, she turns to her best friends, Gray Garrison and Lizzie Larken. Gray’s husband Darnell is James’ business partner and Emma has been close to Lizzie for several years. In between attempting to uncover the truth about what happened to James, Emma tries to be there as much as possible for her teenagers, Hunter and Kelsey.

The deeper Emma digs into her husband’s life, the more the realizes she does not him as well as she thinks. She begins to suspect he was having an affair but trying to figure out who the “other woman” is turns out to be somewhat tricky. Emma also discovers shocking information about James’ future plans and she begins to harbor a few suspicions about someone close to their family. She is also becoming concerned about Hunter and Kelsey who turn out be keeping a few secrets of their own.

Wish You Were Gone is a fast-paced mystery with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The characters are multi-faceted and easy to like. The storyline is well-developed with chapters that alternate between various points of view. With the suspense building with every chapter, Kieran Scott brings this clever domestic mystery to a jaw-dropping and thoroughly shocking conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Gallery Books, Kieran Scott, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Wish You Were Gone

Review: Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen

Title: Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Easttown in this small-town mystery about an unlikely private investigator searching for a missing waitress. Pay Dirt Road is the mesmerizing debut from the 2019 Tony Hillerman Prize recipient Samantha Jayne Allen…

Annie McIntyre has a love/hate relationship with Garnett, Texas. Recently graduated from college and home waitressing, lacking not in ambition but certainly in direction, Annie is lured into the family business – a private investigation firm – by her supposed-to-be-retired grandfather, Leroy, despite the rest of the clan’s misgivings. When a waitress at the café goes missing, Annie and Leroy begin an investigation that leads them down rural routes and haunted byways, to noxious-smelling oil fields and to the glowing neon of local honky-tonks.

As Annie works to uncover the truth she finds herself identifying with the victim in increasing, unsettling ways, and realizes she must confront her own past – failed romances, a disturbing experience she’d rather forget, and the trick mirror of nostalgia itself – if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Review:

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen is an intriguing small-town mystery.

After college graduation, Annie McIntyre finds herself right back in her hometown in Texas. She is working as waitress and living with her cousin, Nikki Avery, when a co-worker goes missing. Annie and Victoria Merritt both work as waitresses and she is worried when Victoria fails to show up for her shift. They were both at the same party the night before on the land adjacent to her grandfather Leroy’s property. Annie has just started doing office work for Leroy and his partner Mary-Pat Zimmerman at their private investigation company. Although Mary-Pat wants them to stay out Victoria’s case, Annie and Leroy cannot help but trying to find out what happened to her.

Annie is quickly reminded of things in her past she would rather forget as she reunites with t foremer classmates she once knew. She has mixed emotions about meeting up again with Wyatt Reed, her teenage boyfriend who broke her heart when he ended things with her. Equally confusing is seeing Justin Schneider again. He is tangled up in a part of her history that she would rather not resurrect.

Although much about the town has stayed the same, the arrival of an oil company is a new complication. Many of the roughnecks are strangers but Justin’s brother Troy works for the company. Annie discovers he has a previously unknown connection to Victoria but does he have anything to do with what happened to the missing waitress? And then there is the hit and run accident that occurred the same night that Victoria disappeared. Is it just a coincidence these two events  happened near one another?

Pay Dirt Road is an interesting mystery that is initially a little slow-paced. Annie is very reflective as she tries to learn the truth about what happened to Victoria. Her family is a dysfunctional but she is fiercely loyal to her loved ones. She is a somewhat impulsive and sometimes confrontational as she searches for answers. The storyline is engaging and the setting springs vividly to life. With outstanding plot twists, Samantha Jayne Allen brings this suspenseful mystery to an action-packed conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Pay Dirt Road, Rated B, Review, Samantha Jayne Allen