Book Review: Unforgiven by Rebecca Zanetti

cover249572-mediumTitle: Unforgiven 
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Genre: Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Series: Deep Ops #5
Date of Publication: June 7, 2022
Publisher: Kensington Books, Lyrical Press


Synopsis

Run:
Gemma Falls never expected to use her game theory expertise to outrun a killer. But for years, that skill is all that kept her one step ahead of a deadly stalker. When Gemma gets the chance to teach at D.C. University, she hopes she and her young daughter have found a safe harbor. The only flaw is the arrogant philosophy professor who’s always underfoot giving unwanted advice—in his sexy British accent . . .

Hide:
Jethro Hanson has blood on his hands. He’s working within ivy-covered university halls now, but he knows that his work with the Deep Ops team and the deadly acts he once committed for the sake of Queen and country place him beyond forgiveness—until he meets Gemma . . .

Seek:
Soon, the passion between them stuns them both. But when Jethro discovers a threat is fast overtaking her, he must choose between the redemption he seeks—and releasing the ever-present killer inside . . . 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Gemma Falls is a single mother who’s been on the run from her child’s abusive father for years–ever since she found out she was pregnant and made her escape. She manages to orchestrate a temporary job for herself as a professor at a university outside of DC, but her new life is far from easy. She doesn’t have much money, and a fellow professor, a handsome Brit, is paying her far too much attention. It turns out that he has secrets of his own–ones that put the both of them in grave danger.

This book was not at all what I was expecting! While Gemma’s backstory is one of the plots of the book, the main premise surrounds Professor Jethro Hanson, a former MI6 operative who now works as a professor. A serial killer who he hunted in his previous life has crossed the pond to target him–and whoever he cares about. Unfortunately for Gemma and her daughter, that now includes them.

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Book Review: Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Wicked Beauty book surrounded by black and gold books, a black candle, and black roses

58945351Title: Wicked Beauty
Author: Katee Robert
Genre: Romance, Paranormal Romance
Series:  Dark Olympus #3
Date of Publication: June 7, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca


Synopsis

She was the face that launched a thousand ships,
The fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus,
And she was never ours to claim.
*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield? 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Wicked Beauty is the third steamy and suspenseful paranormal romance with a plotline that reminded me of an adult Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter.

This book is a little different from the first two books in the series, in that it doesn’t feature an MF couple, but an MMF couple. Achilles and Patroclus have been together for over a decade. Achilles wants nothing more than to become the new Ares, so when the current Ares dies and trials are set up to appoint someone to replace him, he’s eager to prove that he’s the best for the job. The problem is that anyone can enter these trials, including non-Olympians. Patroclus also enters the competition as an ally for Achilles, so that he can help him as far along as he can. But what they don’t bank on? The beautiful Helen Kasios entering the trials, especially when part of the prize is supposed to be her hand as a wife. 

Helen is the sister to the new Zeus and her other sister is Aphrodite, and she’s tired of being a pawn and viewed as nothing more than an object because of her extreme beauty. She wants to become Ares–not just to prove herself to her family and everyone else in Olympus, but because she wants to have a meaningful impact on the city she loves. 

I loved the dynamic between Helen and the couple, though I did get a little bit of whiplash and feel weird about it at first, because Achilles and Patroclus have been a couple for so long, and their jealousy of each other and Helen gave me cheating vibes. Fortunately, that clears up rather quickly, and all three of them end up becoming the perfect throuple. However, the book does end rather abruptly, and it might have benefited from either an epilogue or a scene set a little while after the end of the main events of the book to cement their relationship as a success. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert”

Book Review: Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel

Just like Mother book surrounded by blue blanket, white flowers, and a blue burning candle

Just like motherTitle: Just Like Mother
Author: Anne Heltzel
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Date of Publication: May 17, 2022
Publisher: Nightfire


Synopsis

A girl would be such a blessing…

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything—and everyone—at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry—baby fever comes with the territory.

The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Just Like Mother is an atmospheric, twisted story that starts off innocuous enough, but gradually evolves into a horrific nightmare fuel.  

After an explosive first chapter, the novel is slow paced as Heltzel sets the stage for what eventually becomes a twisted and disturbing story. At first, the book reads like a mild psychological thriller, but the author gradually weaves in the terror until a horrifying and quite satisfying conclusion. The pacing reflects this, in that it’s quite slow to start, but the events gain momentum as the story progresses, leading to a book that no one can question being a true horror novel.

Maeve is a survivor from a cult, which was disbanded when she was only eight years old, but the damage is long lasting. The book mostly focuses on present day events, when Maeve is thirty-three years old, but there are flashbacks throughout. They almost read as an additional timeline, but they jump back and forth. The majority of the flashbacks are to when Maeve has already left the cult and is adopted by a nice elderly couple. I was initially disappointed by this – why read a book about a cult without flashbacks to the horrors of the cult? But Heltzel’s writing is far more subtle than that. Sure, we’re following Maeve after the “good stuff” has happened, but we can infer a heck of a lot from observing her time being integrated into normal society afterward. We can glean the gist of what happened to her from her reactions and interpretations of the world around her. This allows the reader to use their imagination, with just enough handholding and flashbacks to her time at the commune to truly traumatize the reader. 

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Book Review: In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

In the Midst of Magic surrounded by a crystal ball, blue candle, black books, and a black skull

58995486._SY475_Title: In the Midst of Magic 
Author: Christian Cura
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: June 4, 2022
Publisher: Self-published


Synopsis

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

In the Midst of Magic is an epic fantasy story set in modern day America. It has it all–action, romance, betrayals, all in the midst of magic (See what I did there?)

Right on the very first page, we’re dropped into the action. While the world that Cura has created is complex and dynamic, very little time is spent on worldbuilding at the beginning, which is perfect for those who aren’t fans of exposition or information dumps. It seems like most fantasy novels have those early few chapters which are spent explaining to the reader how the world works, which sometimes feels like reading a textbook. With this novel, I found it quite easy to slip into the magical world the author created. While the worldbuilding is scant in the beginning of the book, Cura makes up for it with plenty of theology and backstory for characters, with explanations for why the world is the way it is, all inserted into the narrative at the appropriate spots.

This novel has many strong female characters (almost exclusively!) which I greatly appreciated. Kara, the protagonist, is a photojournalist, and she’s hiding her magic from the world ever since her best friend’s betrayal, which resulted in her brother’s untimely demise. But when she witnesses a rogue demon hunter in action, she’s required to expose herself, using her magic to save innocent lives. I liked Kara a lot as a protagonist. She’s strong, yet vulnerable. She carries a lot of guilt about what happened to her brother, and she’s in denial about who she is. Selene, the rogue demon hunter, is a total bada$$, but she has her softer side too, which she gradually reveals to Kara as the novel progresses. This book has a romantic subplot between Kara and Selene, but it by no means overshadows the overall plotline. It’s quite sweet, and it provides some much-needed breaks from all the action sequences!

Action packed with detailed fight scenes, this book would make for a fabulous TV show. With the ensemble cast, dynamic worldbuilding, and lots of cliffhangers, I could easily see this book as a limited series or even a movie.

At one point, a character says “they’re a hybrid of Harry Potter and Robocop”, which is a perfect way to describe this fast-paced, action-oriented book.

In the Midst of Magic surrounded by a crystal ball, blue candle, black books, and a black skull

*Thank you to the author for the ebook to review*

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Book Review: A Final Call by Eliot Parker

A FInal call on wooden background with a blue candle, notebook, pen, a forensic science book and a pair of binoculars

59148763._SY475_Title: A Final Call 
Author: Eliot Parker
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Date of Publication: October 19, 2021
Publisher: Headline Books


Synopsis

Cleveland Homicide Detective Stacy Tavitt is contacted by a former college classmate who asks for help in finding her missing son, Colton. Still reeling physically and emotionally from her last investigation—which led to the disappearance of her brother–Stacy reluctantly agrees. At first, there is little reason to suspect foul play in his disappearance until he becomes the primary suspect in the murder of an ex-girlfriend. It’s a race against the clock as Stacy tries to find out what happened to her brother and clear his name, all while stopping a lethal killer who continues to target the friends and family connected to Colton. Beset by threats inside and outside of her life, Stacy must go to great lengths to find a killer and save her brother.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

A Final Call is a fast-paced procedural thrill ride, chock full of twists and genuine surprises in the plot. Told in third person, we get multiple perspectives throughout the book, which layers on levels of depth to an original storyline and engaging voice.

The heroine, Detective Stacy Tavitt, is far from perfect, making her the perfect protagonist. She’s dedicated to her job, but after her brother, Chance, went missing, she’s been driven to find him–no matter the cost. In addition to these conflicting drives, she also has a medical condition that impairs her ability to do her job. She has something called ‘thoracic outlet syndrome’, which makes it difficult for her to breathe at times, causing her to pass out and require oxygen. This adds yet another layer of suspense to the novel, because she’s vulnerable, and you never know when an attack might flare up, putting her in even more danger. Though, her condition does make her more reckless than I would have liked (Maybe don’t run into a burning building when your lungs can barely handle a jog through the woods?) As if all this isn’t enough to make Stacy a memorable heroine, she also has complex relationships with her coworkers and family members, which adds yet more drama and tension to an already engaging story.

I recommend this book to those looking for a jam-packed thrill ride with lots of twists and an intriguingly unique protagonist. 

A FInal call on wooden background with a blue candle, notebook, pen, a forensic science book and a

*Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours and the author for the ebook to review*

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Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Book cover surrounded with white roses and a green book

I Kissed Shara Wheeler book coverTitle: I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
Date of Publication: May 3, 2022
Publisher: St Martin’s Press


Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Casey McQuiston’s young adult debut is just as riveting and beautifully written as her adult books! 

Like with One Last Stop, this book has a cast full of lovable, three-dimensional characters who (sometimes) steal the show. Any one of them could be an engaging protagonist in a book about their own life story, which to me shows the depth with which McQuiston writes everything, even side characters.

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Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers book cover surrounded by orange flowers, an orange card catalogue made of lego, reading is sexy magnet, and romance books on a wooden background

58690308Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Berkley


Synopsis

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

This book provides an original perspective–that of the self-proclaimed “Other Woman”. In Hallmark movies and traditional romance novels, there will be the “other woman”–the woman that the hero is dating before he finds his one true love. Nora self-identifies as the career-driven, city woman who’s dated not one, not two, but four different men who left her for their soulmates in romance novel trope-like situations. Nora is a cutthroat literary agent, and in this book, her sister, who’s pregnant for the third time, decides to take her to a small town for a much-needed break. But Nora doesn’t want a break. She loves her job. She loves the city. Everything about this small town goes against everything she is and everything she wants out of her life. As much as Nora wishes she could be something that she isn’t, the truth is, heartbreak aside, she’s happy with her career-driven life. 

But then she keeps bumping into an editor from the city that she doesn’t get along with. It turns out that he’s from this small town, and he’s back to help his father who’s sick. They’re both working remotely (much to Nora’s sister’s dismay), and they grow closer as they start to edit a book together. Sure, Nora is viewed as a shark in the industry, but is it possible that someone can love her because of it, not despite it? 

Continue reading “Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry”

Book Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

A Far Wilder Magic book surrounded by yellow flowers, pine cones, a green candle, and stacks of books

48909025Title: A Far Wilder Magic 
Author: Allison Saft
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Date of Publication: March 8, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books


Synopsis

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

A Far Wilder Magic is a unique, epic young adult fantasy with a splash of romance. 

The world that Allison Saft has created is unique and intricately crafted. As a somewhat casual fantasy reader, the level of depth of the worldbuilding was at times overwhelming. The beginning of the book had quite a bit of information for me to consume and interpret before the action begins. Once I pushed through that part, the book became compelling enough that I wouldn’t have been able to stop reading if you’d paid me. 

The novel’s world is full of magic and mystery, and the writing style reflects this original approach. The book feels like it could be set in a present day world where magic reigns. There’s mention of modern technology, but the book has a bit of a medieval fantasy edge to the plot, setting, and language used. The author’s writing style, while antiquated, has quite a bit of dry humor and hilarious lines interspersed in the descriptive language. 

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Book Review: Belle Morte by Bella Higgin

Belle Morte book on a red book, with dark red roses, a black skull, and a lit candle

smaller belle morteTitle: Belle Morte
Author: Bella Higgin
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Wattpad Books


Synopsis

There’s only one way out

Belle Morte. One of five houses where vampires reside as celebrities and humans are paid to be their living donors. While others came here seeking fortune, I came in search of my sister who walked into Belle Morte five months ago . . . and never walked back out.

Now that I’m here, the secrets about this world have proven to be much bigger than I ever anticipated. And lurking around every corner are shocking insinuations of what happened to my sister.

There’s only one person who might have the answers I need, and the undeniable pull I feel toward him is terrifying: Edmond Dantès―a vampire, and my mortal enemy.

The harder I try to resist him, the further I fall under his spell. And in one instant my life is irrevocably changed. My past becomes prologue and my fate becomes sealed behind these doors.

Belle Morte has spoken. And it may never let me go. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Belle Morte is a young adult vampire romance with thrills and espionage thrown into the mix. Renie Mayfield is an eighteen-year-old girl living in a world where vampires are not only known about, but are basically celebrities. Renie’s sister was selected to become a blood donor and moved into one of the UK vampire mansions months ago, and Renie hasn’t heard from her in months. Desperate to find her sister, Renie applies to become a donor and go undercover at Belle Morte. 

This book is told from two points of view. Renie’s POV is first person and dominates the narrative, but we also occasionally get the third=person point of view of Edmond, one of Belle Morte’s handsome vampires. While I enjoyed knowing what Edmond is thinking, and we find out right away that he’s keeping secrets, I would have preferred to have had only Renie’s POV, as that would have increased the suspense. Knowing that Edmond–and the other vampires–aren’t terrible monsters right away muted some of the story’s suspense. 

The romance between Renie and Edmond is sweet and slow-burn, and I could definitely see a heavy influence from Twilight in the nature of the story. That said, the author is a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I was delighted to spot some references to the horror classic. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but Renie Mayfield sure sounds a lot like Renfield! (Why else would you shorten “Irene” to “Renie”?) Fortunately, Renie is completely different from Renfield in personality and she isn’t doomed the same fate as that Stoker character. (Otherwise this wouldn’t be a romance!) 

Continue reading “Book Review: Belle Morte by Bella Higgin”

Book Review: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Part of your world book cover surrounded by a starry globe, a stack of blue books, a blue candle, and a purple quilt

cover236149-mediumTitle: Part of Your World
Author: Abby Jimenez
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: April 19, 2022
Publisher: Forever


Synopsis

The New York Times bestselling author of Life’s Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Abby Jimenez delivers yet another amazing romance novel–one that just might be her best yet! 

Alexis Montgomery is on her way home from a funeral when her car breaks down just outside of a small town. When a handsome local offers to tow her out, one thing leads to another, and they spend the night together. The morning after, Alexis realizes that this man is almost ten years younger than her, and she panics, returning to the city, fully intending to leave this encounter in her past. But forgetting the sweet, generous, and handsome Daniel is easier said than done. 

Alexis and Daniel both come from completely different worlds. Alexis comes from a family legacy of doctors, and the fact that she’s only an ER doctor has made her a disappointment in her parents’ eyes. The hospital has always had a Montgomery on staff, and now that her parents have retired and her brother has moved away, the mantle of being the celebrity doctor falls to her. Daniel lives in a small town and runs the B&B that’s been in his generation for 150 years. He’s in danger of losing it, and he’s working extra hard to keep it in the family. While their lives and upbringings are very different, there are several parallels that are cleverly thought out. For instance, Daniel is dedicated to maintaining his family legacy, and so is Alexis, but she’s doing it out of obligation, and he’s doing it out of love.

This book is so funny and sweet. There are so many parts that are downright hilarious, from the situational humour to the lines that certain characters come up with. While Alexis may be nine years older than Daniel, he’s the one that has his life and his priorities in the right order, and Alexis has a lot of growing up to do.  In true Abby Jimenez fashion, this book has a fair bit of angst, which makes the star-crossed lovers’ happy ending seem unattainable at first, making the resolution even more satisfying. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves an angsty rom com, and other fans of Jimenez will definitely want to read this the instant it’s released!

Part of your world book cover surrounded by a starry globe, a stack of blue books, a blue candle, and a purple quilt

*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

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