Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Last House On The Street Review

Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Release Date: Jan. 11, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

4.5 Heart Shattering Hearts
Special thanks to the publisher for an arc of this book
Review published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine

From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel that perfectly interweaves history, mystery, and social justice.

Review:
The Last House on the Street is another stunning historical mystery like I've come to expect from author Diane Chamberlain who continues setting the bar high in the genre with her uncanny ability to deliver volatile, dual timeline stories rich in history in a highly emotionally charged story.  In The Last House on the Street, ghosts of the past live on to haunt dreams of not only those left behind, but also those who dare reside in their space in the future.  The result is a heart-wrenching story of prejudice, violence, racism and an interracial relationship with revelations reaching years into the future which Diane Chamberlain delivers with all the dignity, grace, and historical authenticity it deserves.

In 2010, Kayla Carter and her four year old daughter prepare to move into their dream home surrounded by dark woods at the end of the street in Shadow Ridge Estates - the first new house completed in the new upscale housing development and also the house responsible for taking her young husband's life in a tragic accident.  Needless to say, she has mixed feelings about the house she and her husband designed together - feelings escalated by strange warnings that it would be in her best interest to stay away.  The house with all the glass windows with panoramic views of the surrounding woods now feels a bit too open, too exposed, too threatening.  And yet, it's their new home, and there's little choice but to live there.

The only other house on the street is the Hockley house, an original pre-1965 home whose owner refused to sell to developers, occupied by the elderly Hockley mother and her terminally ill son and now daughter Ellie who just returned to the home she was forced to flee heartbroken and in fear forty five years ago.  As a young, privileged white student of the 1960's, a period of racial unrest in the South, Ellie spurned her parent's expectations for her of marriage to a young, upcoming banker, turning her back on them to become an activist for black voting rights by joining the SCOPE project (Summer Community Organization and Political Education).  As a participant, seventeen year old Ellie left her privileged life and home behind to live and work in poverty stricken black homes in rural communities while helping canvas the neighborhoods with educational material about voter registration rights.  Unfortunately, her actions angered white supremacists, drawing unwelcome attention not only on her and her family, but also on the very people she hoped to help protect and educate.  And when Ellie crosses a forbidden line with a black student, the hatred, anger and violence spill blood on everyone involved with far reaching effects for their families for generations to come.

Through dual timelines, readers learn the past tragedy that forever links these two families as Kayla and Ellie finally discover and come to terms with the tragic mystery of what lies within the woods at the end of the street as well as the true story of the roles their own families played in it.  This highly atmospheric story unfolds at a relentless pace as it alternates chapters of past and present rich in ominous vibes and heart shattering revelations.  Chamberlain's brilliant characterizations left me feeling a personal connection to each character as I raced through pages hoping for a better outcome than I knew in my heart was coming.  Chamberlain doesn't just recite historical facts, she renders a story that breaths life back into it in a manner that makes it all too real and ugly and tragic.  

The Last House on the Street is a volatile story of hatred, prejudice, and social injustice, but it's also a story of courage, love and understanding.  It's a coming of age story of a young girl who had no idea the horrors hidden in Pandora's Box when she cracked open the lid or of the havoc it would wreak on those she loved with life altering ramifications reaching years into the future.  The Last House on the Street is an extraordinary must read for fans of historical mystery fiction.  I also highly recommend it to fans of mystery and suspense.  This book richly deserves to be the buzz of 2022.

Synopsis:
When Kayla Carter's husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It's clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area...and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla's elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it's clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families. 


Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.


Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

http://www.dianechamberlain.com/

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Reckless Girls Review

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Gothic Suspense
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Release Date: Jan. 4, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

My Rating: 4 Haunted Hearts
Special thanks to the publisher for an arc of this book.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

Review:
Lux McAllister is at loose ends, working odd jobs trying to keep a roof over her head when she meets golden boy Nico - a charismatic rich kid, the black sheep of his wealthy family ready to sail off around the world. Lux falls fast and hard and joins him aboard his boat to sail to Hawaii.  There she works cleaning motel rooms while Nico wanders as he pleases until two college friends offer him fifty thousand dollars to sail them to the deserted Meroe Island for two weeks in paradise.  Just sand, surf, sun . . . and an eerie island history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, ghosts, murder and more.  Meroe Island may or may not be haunted, but it's one gorgeous setting for four young people seeking adventure.  When they arrive and drop anchor, they find another couple there before them so they all become friends and let the champagne and good times roll.  Just another day in paradise, right?

Reckless Girls sets sail at a fast clip from Lux's point of view as she joins Nico for the adventure of a lifetime.  However, once everyone gathers on the island, it quickly becomes obvious that each of these six people are hiding dark secrets and harboring malevolent thoughts and intentions.  They each have a personal agenda, and readers slowly learn some of their background from chapters set in the past which begins to cut through the smoke screen surrounding these people in the present.  It's never quite clear who to trust and who not to turn your back on.  Things really begin to come to a head with the arrival of another boat and a dark stranger with cold eyes.  Paradise begins to unravel, bodies show up and boats disappear.  I was one hundred percent in at least three fourths of the way through - couldn't put the book down even though I can't say I ever formed a tight reader/character bond with any of the characters.  And then the big reveal at the end came, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  

Reckless Girls explores the dark, inner emotions in people that are only drawn out under the extremest of conditions - life or death type situations or situations where people stand to lose something they're not willing to give up and so they embrace their dark side.  It explores what people may do when their backs are against the wall with only one perceived way out for survival.  It's a winner take all story where only one person can walk away with the gold.  I found it to be well paced and plotted until near the end where it floundered a bit for me.  I highly recommend everyone read this and decide for yourself.  I'm sure many will say it couldn't have ended any other way, and they're probably right.  In thinking back over the story as a whole, it was always headed in this direction.  For fans of mystery, suspense and dark thrillers.

Synopsis:
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.


Last Seen Alive Review

Author: Joanna Schaffhausen
Series: Ellery Hathaway #5
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

5 Final Hearts

Special thanks to Minotaur Books for an arc of this book.

The fifth book in Joanna Schaffhausen's heartpounding Ellery Hathaway mystery series.

Review:
Boston Police Detective Ellery Hathaway is the sole survivor of the notorious serial killer Francis Coben who's serving life for the abduction and brutal torture and murders of at least seventeen young girls.  At age fourteen, "Abby" was snatched from the street, restrained in a small closet in the blood of the girls who preceded her and heartlessly tortured.  FBI Agent Reed Markham was following his gut instinct when he miraculously found and rescued her from that closet.  In the years that followed, the pair formed a rocky relationship that was doomed from the start because a grown up Ellery could never completely silence the monster's voices in her head.  She had a up close and personal view of Coben's face when his mask slipped and was reminded of it every night in her nightmares.  Try as she may, she was unable to separate the man Reed from the rescuer Agent Reed and so they lived separate lives unless a case drew them together like now - a young woman's body has been discovered with similarities to victims of Coben.  Is it a copycat killer . . . or is Coben pulling strings from inside prison.  Either way, he's demanding to see Ellery, his "Abby", and he'll give up the location of some of the missing girl's bodies.  And, he wants the meeting filmed live for reality TV.  Can she face her torturer again . . . and survive it?

From the cold, barren setting to the multi-layered, complex plot, Last Seen Alive is very close to the perfect thriller.  The pace is relentless, driving the suspense higher and higher as the meeting between a twisted serial killer and his sole remaining survivor draws near.  I held my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop because it's obvious Coben has an ace up his sleeve.  Sure enough, he does and Ellery is in a life or death situation once again.  The character study in this book is simply outstanding.  I have not read the first four books although I'll rectify that as soon as possible, but even without that firsthand background knowledge, I was blown away walking the pages with these characters as they dug in to take a monster down.  The author does an amazing job of including enough backstory to make even this finicky reader comfortable with picking up the story line and proceeding.  The relationship development between Ellery and Reed is touching and heartbreaking as it's clear he wants more than she may ever be able to give.  Watching her search for ways to come to grips with her terrifying memories, find a way to disassociate them from Reed left me wondering if there was any hope of a future for them together.  Terrifying, complex, and intense, Last Seen Alive is one not to be missed.  Fans of mystery, suspense and/or thrillers are in for a real treat.  I've just become a Joanna Schaffhausen fan and will be actively searching through her catalog of work.  Highly recommended.

Synopsis:
Boston detective Ellery Hathaway met FBI agent Reed Markham when he pried open a serial killer’s closet to rescue her. Years on, their relationship remains defined by that moment and by Francis Coben’s horrific crimes. To free herself from Coben’s legacy, Ellery had to walk away from Reed, too. But Coben is not letting go so easily. He has an impossible proposition: Coben will finally give up the location of the remaining bodies, on one condition—Reed must bring him Ellery.

Now the families of the missing victims are crying out for justice that only Ellery can deliver. The media hungers for a sequel and Coben is their camera-ready star. He claims he is sorry and wants to make amends. But Ellery is the one living person who has seen the monster behind the mask and she doesn’t believe he can be redeemed. Not after everything he’s done. Not after what she’s been through. And certainly not after a fresh body turns up with Coben’s signature all over it.


Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills she developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain―how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked as a scientific editor in the field of drug development. Prior to that, she was an editorial producer for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, daughter, and an obstreperous basset hound.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

How to Love Your Neighbor Review


Author: Sophie Sullivan
Genre: Rom Com
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Release Date: Jan. 18, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

4 Heartfelt Hearts

Special thanks to the publisher for an arc of this book.

How to Love Your Neighbor is a high-concept enemies-to-lovers rom com from sparkling romance author Sophie Sullivan…

Review:
How to Love Your Neighbor is a sweet, heartfelt romantic comedy with characters that feel real - people you'd like to know.  Grace is the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who's moving into a house left to her by her grandparents.  The house is a fixer upper, but it's view of the beach is highly desirable, and Grace is determined to plant her roots in the house where her grandparents lived.  The problem is the rich, arrogant hunk next door, Noah, who seems to think he can throw money at her and she'll fold and sell him her new place so he can add on a pool.  Noah is a gorgeous real estate developer - a business tycoon who moved there to escape his father's business influence and make his own way in the business world.  A famous magazine wants to photograph and record his house makeover with one little catch . . . they want the irritating woman next door who happens to be graduating from design school to be his designer on the project.  If he refuses, the story is dead.  All Noah has to do is convince Grace that doing it will benefit them both.

Sullivan has penned a hilarious rom com with insane chemistry blazing between her hero and heroine who try so hard to hate one another.  Neither understands the other, but they agree to work together for their mutual benefit.  The lessons learned just may change both their lives.  What I loved about this story was the amazing character development as both dared to step out of their comfort zone and take chances when challenged by the other.  The author does an amazing job keeping it real with several twists and turns in the evolution of these characters and their relationship.  I felt the story dragged just a bit in the middle and could have been shortened a little.  In spite of that, I enjoyed How To Love Your Neighbor and highly recommend it to fans of romance especially those who love their romance with a lot of snark, sizzle and pop.  Lots of laughter and love in this one!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Nine Lives Review


Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

My Rating: 4 Mysterious Hearts
Review published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine

Special thanks to the publisher for an arc of this book.

From the New York Times best-selling author of Eight Perfect Murders comes the heart-pounding story of nine strangers who receive a cryptic list with their names on it - and then begin to die in highly unusual circumstances.

Review:
Nine names. Nine random people living all over the country working in vastly different fields from an oncologist nurse to an FBI agent.  What do they have in common?  They all received an envelope with a single sheet of paper bearing nine names . . . including their own.  What does it mean?  A joke?  A mistake?  Some trash it without a second thought.  Others lay it aside to think about later.  FBI agent Jessica Winslow has an inclination that it's bad news and starts a search to identify the other people listed while seeking answers, looking for connections between herself and anyone on the list and finding none.  When she hears reports of a man drowned on a beach whose head was held down in a pool of water and his identity matches a name from the list, the agent's gut feeling is confirmed . . .  she's in possession of a kill list with her own name on it.  When a second and then third person are murdered, Agent Winslow is pulled from the case and put under police protection as are the other identified people on the list while authorities frantically search for the unknown people to inform them their lives are in danger.  The race is on to figure out what connects these people and why someone would want them all dead.  Meantime, everyone is looking over their shoulder wondering which one of them will be next?

Peter Swanson renders a complex murder mystery in Nine Lives and challenges readers to solve it.  Alternating chapters with multiple points of view exposes the internal turmoil occurring in each of the listed nine people's lives.  One can easily deduce that all is not as it appears, secrets are being kept and information withheld.  And the elusive thread that connects these people one to the other as well as to a murderer remains just out of grasp.  Chapters count down from nine to none, lending a sense of urgency to the story as each lower number means another victim.  First there are nine . . . until finally there are none.  Are you getting vibes of Agatha Christies' And Then There Were None?  I did.  

Swanson's unique, clean writing style proves to be the perfect tool for delivering Nine Lives in a highly effective, look over your shoulder kind of way.  Short chapters deliver the details with a mysterious, eerie tone of impending doom, pulling readers into each of these people's lives - just in time to snuff them out.  No one is safe - police protection or not.  The rapidly escalating pace is like a time bomb seconds from blowing - time growing ever shorter as the chapters and lives dwindle down.  I found the delivery of this highly atmospheric story to be brilliant as it really puts solving the mystery in readers' hands.  We know what's in each person's head, but we don't know the identity of the villain . . .  and neither do authorities.  As the list grew shorter, I had an inkling of what was going on and yet, the insane twist right at the end knocked me for a loop.  Readers who love to dive deep into a mystery and work the clues with the clock ticking will devour Nine Lives.  Highly recommended.

Synopsis:
Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke - until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next....


Peter Swanson is the author of six novels including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year, and his most recent thriller, Eight Perfect Murders. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.


A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.


Monday, September 27, 2021

The Whirlpools of Time Blog Tour & Giveaway

 


The Whirlpools of Time by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: June 11, 2021
Timelight Press

Series: The Locket, Book One
Genre: Historical Romance/Scottish/Time Travel


He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.

It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…

Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.

The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.

Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?

Amazon

About the Author


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.

Find out more about Anna on her website or on her Amazon page. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom to enter Giveaway!

Excerpt:

Erin Barnes leaned forward to crank up the volume, squinting at the road before her. Her wipers swished back and forth like a couple of high-speed metronomes, but with the rain coming down in torrents they did little to improve visibility.

She took a right and lowered her speed as she approached the old crossroads. In weather such as this, the old gravel roads became water-logged, and she definitely didn’t need the complication of an accident. Not after this shitty day. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel. She threw a look at the rear-view mirror: no headlights following her. Idiot, she told herself, they wouldn’t dare.

“No, of course they wouldn’t,” she said out loud but the knot of tension that lived in her stomach remained where it was, an uncomfortable weight that had her glancing back the way she’d come over and over again. Steve might. He’d looked ready to throttle her earlier and he had a damned short temper.

Had her grandmother Emily been alive, she’d have told Erin that some crusades were best left alone—unless one was willing to pay the price. Crusade? Erin snorted. This was no crusade, this was her sinking her teeth into a story that would make her career as a journalist and avenge Emily’s death. Well, unless the story got her killed first.

She’d spent months getting an in on it, swallowing down the desire to throw up that afflicted her whenever Steve kissed her or pawed at her body. And now…She tightened her hold on the wheel, recalling just how quickly Josephine Wilkes’ expression had changed, from mildly interested to icy rage when she studied the pics in Erin’s phone. Okay, so she’d done a lot of illegal snooping to take those pics, using the hot romance between Steve and herself as a cover to access his family home on several occasions. Too bad Mama Josephine wasn’t as dense as her youngest son—but then, if she’d been that dumb she would not be heading the racketeering business she’d inherited from her husband years ago.

So here she was, driving madly for the safety of her home, south of the air field. Safety? Please! But now that they had her phone, now that they’d slapped her around a bit, maybe they thought she’d do the smart thing and just keep her head down. Huh. When she’d squeezed out of the narrow bathroom window and sprinted for her car, Erin had been as determined as ever to bring the Wilkes family down. Even more, actually, given that now it was personal, her face swollen and puffy after the repeated “love pats” from dear ex-boyfriend Steve.

Thunder crackled through the night and Erin jumped, the car swerving slightly. Shit! More thunder, and if anything the rain intensified, a veritable deluge that had her slowing her speed to a crawl. A flash of lightning illuminated the landscape and a huge bundle lying right in the middle of the crossroads. Was that a man? An outflung arm? Erin stepped on the brake. Too late. There was a dull thump when her fender connected with the object. For some moments, she just sat there, her hands clenched so tight round the steering wheel they hurt. On the radio, someone was singing about perfection.

From outside came a loud howl. It made her jump. Definitely a human voice and with a deep sigh Erin concluded her day had just gone from bad to worse. She’d just hit some poor idiot, although to be fair, it was just as much his fault as hers. What sort of moron would just lie on the middle of the road? An injured one, her brain told her, one that is even more injured now that you’ve run him over.

There was a gun in the glove compartment, and she tucked it into the waist of her jeans before getting out. One never knew, this could be one of Steve’s more subtle attempts at getting his hands on her, but the moment she thought it she dismissed it as ridiculous. Steve had little finesse, was way more into brutal intimidation. She shivered, uncertain if it was the rain or the thought of Steve that chilled her to the bone. The pile on the road groaned.

A man, she concluded some moments later. Dark hair plastered to his forehead, something that resembled a linen shirt stuck to his torso and long legs encased in weird pants and knee-high boots. Erin rolled her eyes. One of those Renaissance Fair types, she thought, placing a careful hand on his back to make sure he was still breathing.

“Hey,” she said, wiping at her face. “Are you okay?” Stupid, stupid question. The man’s eyes fluttered open.

“Hi,” she said, trying out a little smile.

“Hi?” He scooted out of reach and sat up, groaning loudly. He looked at her. His eyes widened. He blinked and looked again.

“Can you stand?” she asked him, wondering if it would be totally uncharitable to help him to the side and then drive off.

“Aye.”

Aye? And what an odd accent. He sounded British, somehow.

The man lurched to his feet, took a step and promptly fell to his knees.

“Are you drunk?” she demanded. He clutched at his left leg and she was suffused with guilt. She’d broken his leg or something, and here she was accusing him of being drunk.

He looked at her. “I wish I was,” he said. “It would explain my hallucinations.”

“Hallucinations?”

“Aye.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you real?” Once again, he stood, favouring his left leg. He was tall, well over six feet, and that shirt of his displayed an impressively broad chest. He was also bleeding from a gash on his forehead, his right sleeve was badly burned as was the forearm and hand, and he grimaced when he put weight on his left foot.

“Of course I’m real.” She grabbed hold of him when he swayed. He yelped and shied away, landing yet again on the ground.

“God’s fish!” he exclaimed. “You are real!”

What was the matter with him? She took a couple of steps away from him, uncomfortable by how he stared at her, as if she were some sort of apparition. Sort of rich, seeing as he was the one wearing weird clothes, not her.

“Where’s Lewis?” He filled his lungs. “Lewis!” he yelled. “Damn it man, where are you?”

“Not here,” Erin told him.

“But he was right behind me when…” He broke off, stared down at the crossroads and shuffled hastily to the side. “Where’s my horse?”

Erin shook her head. No horse. And who in their right mind would go riding in this weather? Some people took all that re-enactment stuff way too far.

“Who…” he began, but whatever he was about to say drowned in the sound of a large, revving engine. A huge van skidded to a stop and Erin hurled herself towards her car. Too late,  and here came Steve, with that oaf Johnny and his dear cousin Marco. Johnny had hold of her before she reached the car. A twist, and he had her arm high up on her back, making her scream with pain.

“Let me go!” She kicked and fought.

Johnny just laughed. “Don’t think so. You’re coming with us.” He pulled her in the direction of the van.

“What, you thought we were done?” Steve asked. He glanced at the stranger, who was swaying on his feet. “Who’s he?”

“No idea. Let me go, you bastard!”

“Now, now: you know what we want. You give it to us and we’ll let you go. You don’t, and…” Whatever else Steve had planned on saying she’d never know—not that it took that much imagination to fill in the blanks. Instead, Steve was staggering back, staring at the stranger. An arm flew out, a fist connected with Steve’s face and he toppled backwards. The stranger turned her way.

“The lady said to let her go,” this oddly dressed apparition said. He pulled his sword as he advanced on Johnny.

“Seriously?” Johnny said with a sneer, pulling his gun. Erin took the opportunity offered, stomped down on his toes and pulled free, fumbling for her gun. Steve was back on his feet, stalking towards them.

“Watch out!” she yelled. The stranger swirled. His blade sliced through the air, Steve yelped. He wheeled again and his blade rapped down sharply on Johnny’s hand, sending the gun flying.

And then there was Marco, bringing down a cudgel on the stranger’s head. The stranger stumbled, regained his balance, ducked the next blow and punched Marco in the gut. With a growl, Johnny threw himself forward. Steve joined the fray.  The stranger disappeared in a flurry of arms. Three against one was impossible odds—especially against someone like Johnny. But the stranger held his own for a while, giving as good as he got. At one point Steve screeched. The cudgel came whistling through the air and the stranger collapsed.

“Bastard!” Steve snarled, kicking at the poor man. “Who do you think you are, some sort of fucking Zorro?”

A number of dull thuds, booted feet lifted to stomp and Erin raised her gun and shot. Once. “Get away,” she yelled. “Back off or I’ll shoot you.”

Johnny laughed. “I’d like to see you try.”

“What? You don’t believe me?” She squeezed the trigger. Johnny collapsed, clutching at his thigh. She aimed at Steve. “You’re next,” she warned. “But this time I’ll aim for the head.”

“Let’s go, man.” Marco had hold of Johnny, was dragging him backwards. “We can always come and find her later.”

Erin shifted her aim and squeezed the trigger again. The bullet whizzed by Steve, close enough to make him yelp, nowhere close to actually hitting him.

“I see you anywhere close to me again and I’ll shoot first, ask questions later,” she said, trying to sound cool and unconcerned. She slid the stranger a look. He was lying very still on the ground. Was he dead?

“You’ll pay,” Steve said, retreating towards the van. “For Johnny, for fucking spying on us!”

“Yeah? Maybe I should tell dear Mama Josephine just how sloppy you are, leaving all sorts of information lying around.”

Even in the dark she could see him stumble. “Bitch!” he hissed. “You’ll regret this. And you’ll definitely regret not killing me when you had the chance.” He hauled himself into the van. The engine roared, gravel spitting every which way as the van sped off.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 23
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, August 24
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review + Excerpt at Books & Benches

Thursday, August 26
Review at Reader_ceygo

Friday, August 27
Review at Novels Alive

Monday, August 30
Review at With A Book In Our Hands

Wednesday, September 1
Review at The Book Review Crew

Friday, September 3
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, September 6
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Wednesday, September 8
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, September 10
Review at Rajiv's Reviews

Monday, September 13
Guest Post at Hoover Book Reviews

Wednesday, September 15
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Friday, September 17
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, September 20
Review at Amy's Booket List

Tuesday, September 21
Review at Anna’s Book Blog

Wednesday, September 22
Excerpt at The Cozy Book Blog

Friday, September 24
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 27
Excerpt at Cross My Heart Writing & Reviews

Wednesday, September 29
Review at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Whirlpools of Time by Anna Belfrage! Two copies are up for grabs!

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Whirlpools of Time



Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Patient's Secret Review


Author: Loreth Anne White
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Publish: Montlake
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

My Rating: 500 Thought Provoking Hearts

Special thanks to the author for an arc of this book.

Secrets worth dying―and killing―for, in a novel of suspense inspired by a horrific true crime by Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author Loreth Anne White.

Review:
At the heart of Loreth Anne White's newest thriller, The Patient's Secret, is a true crime that occurred several years ago.  One that was so horrific, so mind-boggling that it defies the wildest imagination.  To this day, the crime continues to be debated in terms of the odds for or against lasting rehabilitation to the point a patient can return to society as a functioning, law-abiding citizen.  Keep that in mind as you turn the pages of The Patient's Secret and get lost in a profoundly thought-provoking story that I believe is White's finest work to date.  Just beware . . . once you learn the patient's secret, you'll never be the same again.

There are three key players in The Patient's Secret whose lives become hopelessly entwined during a murder investigation - Lily Bradley, a highly revered psychotherapist, beloved wife and mother of two, respected member of the coastal town of Story Cove . . . and woman with a dark secret; Detective Rue Duval, a respected member of the town's police force, skilled investigator, beloved wife and mother . . . and woman with a life-altering secret; and finally, new to the community is Arwen Harper, a flamboyant, gypsy-like bar waitress and artist, seductress, mother . . . and woman with a deeply buried secret.  When the battered body of an early morning jogger is found lying on the beach at the base of the cliffs, these women's lives clash in ways they couldn't have imagined, and a blanket of unease settles over the idyllic town of Story Cove.  The victim's face is beyond recognition.  Who is it?  Was it a terrible accident?  Did they jump from the cliff top or were they pushed?  Det. Duval is called to the death scene by Lily's husband, a distinguished professor, who discovers the body while on his morning run.  Questions and suspicions escalate when critical evidence is recovered, and the body is officially identified.  It appears several people have motive for wanting this person silenced  . . . including Lily's husband.  As the story unfolds, the past collides with the present, skeletons are rattled and despite their efforts to slap a Band-Aid over them, dark secrets begin oozing out.  The stakes are high for several prominent people with everything they hold dear at risk so the question is:  Which of these upstanding citizens would kill to keep their secret?

The Patient's Secret is an intensely moving reading experience.  White's uncanny ability to continuously gift reader's thought-provoking stories like this is nothing short of amazing.  As a reader, I'm loving her current trend of writing fiction based on true crimes with ramifications reaching far into the future.  Her work not only entertains readers, it challenges them to think and consider what if?  The Patient's Secret is highly atmospheric with a setting that enhances the story line, helping accelerate an escalating pace as the story progresses.  White's brilliant manipulation of each character leaves readers frantically scrambling to discover which of these seemingly ordinary, everyday people would kill to protect loved ones from their dark secrets.  

Loreth Anne White is a writer at the top of her game, and it's never been more evident than with this piece of work.  As a reviewer, I struggle to find the right words to review her work without spoilers and as a reader, I'm just thankful for the opportunity to read it.  Fans of mystery, suspense, thrillers and true crime fiction, mark your calendars for the release of The Patient's Secret on March 1, 2022.  It's one you don't want to miss.  Highly recommended!

Synopsis:
When the battered body of a female jogger is found beneath the cliffs of an idyllic coastal community, these perfect neighbors suddenly don’t seem so perfect…

Lily Bradley is a respected psychotherapist married to a distinguished professor. They live in a dream house with their two children in close-knit Story Cove. Lily lives a well-ordered life. Or so it seems. As a therapist, she knows everyone keeps things hidden. Even her.

Then sensual and free-spirited Arwen Harper rolls into town in her hand-painted VW van, her sixteen-year-old son riding shotgun. Overnight, Story Cove’s secrets are no longer safe. Because Arwen might know her new neighbors better than they know themselves.

Now someone is dead, and it looks like murder. Brutal and personal. The death invites the shrewd eye of Detective Rue Duval. Rue’s job is to expose secrets. But she’s also an expert at keeping them.

As the lives of three women become inexorably entwined, one thing is clear: when it comes to survival, ordinary people can do the most terrible things.
 

Loreth Anne White is an Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and suspense. With well over 2 million books sold around the world, she is a three-time RITA finalist, an overall Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Arthur Ellis finalist, and winner of multiple industry awards.

A recovering journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now calls Canada home. She resides in the Pacific Northwest, dividing time between Victoria on Vancouver Island, the ski resort of Whistler in the Coast Mountains, and a rustic lakeside cabin in the Cariboo. When she’s not writing or dreaming up plots, you will find her on the lakes, in the ocean, or on the trails with her dog where she tries—unsuccessfully—to avoid bears. For more information on her books please visit her website at lorethannewhite.com

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loreth.Anne....
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Loreth
Or via Instagram: lorethannewhite

Visit her at www.lorethannewhite.com