2021 Book 250: FORGOTTEN IN DEATH by J. D. Robb

Forgotten In Death, In Death #53, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250272812 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272829 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250810625 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250817662 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08V236NLL (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R2KNYVW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 7, 2021

In the latest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas sifts through the wreckage of the past to find a killer.

The body was left in a dumpster like so much trash, the victim a woman of no fixed address, known for offering paper flowers in return for spare change—and for keeping the cops informed of any infractions she witnessed on the street. But the notebook where she scribbled her intel on litterers and other such offenders is nowhere to be found.

Then Eve is summoned away to a nearby building site to view more remains—in this case decades old, adorned with gold jewelry and fine clothing—unearthed by recent construction work. She isn’t happy when she realizes that the scene of the crime belongs to her husband, Roarke—not that it should surprise her, since the Irish billionaire owns a good chunk of New York. Now Eve must enter a complex world of real estate development, family history, shady deals, and shocking secrets to find justice for two women whose lives were thrown away…

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Powell’s | Turn the Page

There are two things I look forward to each Winter and late Summer/Early Fall, and that’s the new releases in the In Death series. (I look forward to a lot of other books as well, but these books are yearly favorites.) Earlier this year, readers got to continue Eve and Roarke’s story with Faithless In Death. Now, Eve and Roarke continue their romance and crime fighting in the latest addition to this series, Forgotten In Death. This book begins, as most do, with a murder. A sweet, homeless woman is found bludgeoned to death on one of Roarke’s construction sites. Known as the “concerned citizen” due to her habit of writing up infractions of those in the neighborhood and reporting the same to the police, she was truly harmless. Eve’s investigation into this murder has barely begun when she is pulled into another murder, also found on a nearby construction site, and eerily reminiscent of the bodies found in the An Didean shelter a few years ago. This body is found with bullet shells, walled up in a basement, and with a fetus. Adding to the mystery, the body has been on the site for at least forty years. It is quite likely that both murder victims would be considered forgettable, but Eve Dallas isn’t your typical police office and no one is ever forgotten on her watch. Will she be able to locate the killers? Will Eve be able to obtain justice for these victims?

It’s easy to think that too much time has passed on some crimes, such as with the walled up body found on one construction site. Or that the deceased woman thrown into the dumpster on another construction site isn’t worth the time or effort of an in-depth investigation since she was homeless. That might be the prevailing attitude of some today and continue into the future, but for those of us that know and love Eve Dallas, Roarke, and friends, we know that there is no such thing as an unworthy victim. Eve Dallas goes all out to find out the whys and whodunit for both murder victims. It doesn’t matter to her that one woman was homeless or that the other crime occurred almost forty years ago. These women are hers now and Eve will not stop until justice prevails.

I could give you specifics about how the investigation is performed or how the two murders intersect (if they, in fact, intersect), but you already know I’m not going to do that. Yes, there are decidedly predictable elements to this story, but all that aside, I found the story credible and engaging. If it had not been for this current migraine series, I probably would have read this one in one sitting. Sadly, it took me took two days simply because I kept having to set this aside due to pain and vision issues. One of the many things I enjoy about this continuing series, is watching the characters grow in their relationships with one another and on their jobs. We didn’t get to see as much of Feeney in this one, but McNab, Delia, Dr. Mira, Nadine, Cher Reo, Harvo (aka Queen of Hair and Fiber), Dr. Garnet DeWinter, Summerset, Dr. Li Morris, Dickie Berenski, and Commander Whitney make reappearances, as do Baxter, Trueheart, Jenkinson, and others from the Homicide squad. I’m eagerly awaiting future developments with Mavis, Leonardo, Bella, and their new additions (both the baby and the house). There are a lot of themes to unpack in this story, including spousal abuse, classicism, affluenza, privilege, and more. Forgotten In Death is a story of two women, one from the past and one from the present day (okay, Eve and Roarke’s present day), who might otherwise be considered disposable and forgotten due to the perceived privilege of wealth and class of others. We know better and yes, justice ultimately prevails. I enjoyed Forgotten in Death and look forward to seeing what happens next in the ongoing saga of Eve Dallas, Roarke, and friends.


 Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 133: LEGACY by Nora Roberts

LEGACY by Nora Roberts book cover, water front, possible creek or river, fall foliage with leaves on the ground, and red, wood covered bridge crossing the water in the background

Legacy by Nora Roberts
ISBN: 9781250272935 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272942 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250802378 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250802354 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08H8V21KC (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08FGVFNP7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 25, 2021

The #1 New York Times bestselling author presents a new novel of a mother and a daughter, of ambition and romance, and of a traumatic past reawakened by a terrifying threat…

Adrian Rizzo was seven when she met her father for the first time. That was the day he nearly killed her—before her mother, Lina, stepped in.

Soon after, Adrian was dropped off at her grandparents’ house in Maryland, where she spent a long summer drinking lemonade, playing with dogs, making a new best friend—and developing the stirrings of a crush on her friend’s ten-year-old brother. Lina, meanwhile, traveled the country promoting her fitness brand and turning it into a billion-dollar business. There was no point in dwelling on the past.

A decade later, Adrian has created her own line of yoga and workout videos, following in Lina’s footsteps but intent on maintaining creative control. And she’s just as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial—as long as neither crosses the other.

But while Lina dismisses the death threats that Adrian starts getting as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling. Year after year, they keep arriving—the postmarks changing, but the menacing tone the same. They continue after she returns to Maryland and becomes reacquainted with Raylan, her childhood crush, all grown up and as gorgeously green-eyed as ever. Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins…

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Lina Rizzo was a relatively naïve Georgetown college student when she had an affair with a married professor and wound up pregnant. She was told that he was in the process of getting a divorce. He lied. She left school. Had the baby and began a fitness and health company. She never told her daughter, Adrian, the whole truth about her conception other than she fell in love in college and she was the result. Seven years later, Lina, Adrian, and Lina’s best friend as well as Adrian’s nanny — Mimi, are back in Georgetown when the college professor shows up drunk and begins to beat up Mimi, before turning his attention to Adrian and then Lina. Fortunately, Lina fights back and the professor unfortunately dies in what is classified as self-defense. It is that year that Adrian gains her first childhood friend while staying with her maternal grandparents, Dom and Sophia Rizzo in Traveler’s Creek, Maryland. Maya Wells is the daughter of the new cook at Rizzo’s, Jan Wells. Her older brother, Raylan, is a gifted artist whose main interests are comics and graphic novels. A few years later, Adrian is in high school in New York and makes three new friends, Teesha Kirk – who later becomes her business manager, Hector Sung – who becomes her fitness videographer, and Loren Moorhead – who becomes her business lawyer. Meeting Teesha, Hector, and Loren changes Adrian’s life for the better and sets her on the course for the rest of her life, fitness her style. It also introduces her to an anonymous poet that begins to threaten her life and continues to do so for the better part of ten years. Who is this poet and why does he or she want her dead? Will the police or FBI be able to find the anonymous stalker before it’s too late?

Legacy is the latest romantic suspense thriller from the talented Nora Roberts. I’ve got to say that initially I felt that this book had a bit of a “been there, read that” feel to it, but the more I read the more it began to feel different from previous books by this author. Yes, there are some elements from previous books, namely shades of Hideaway with the child of a talented parent discovering their own talent and building their niche, Black Hills with the child of divorce (although Adrian isn’t the child of divorce, her circumstances with her grandparents are quite similar) spending time with the maternal grandparents, and Tribute with the graphic artist theme. Although there are similarities, there are also major differences. Adrian respects and loves her mother as well as adores her maternal grandparents. She also loves spending time in a small town, something her mother never truly enjoyed. Adrian has made life-long friends in both New York and in Traveler’s Creek. She has purposefully made her own path in the fitness industry without trying to use her mother’s influence. Legacy deals with a lot of themes, including friendship, family – those we’re born into and those we choose to make, love, physical abuse, school shootings, mental illness, murder, and warped ideas of vengeance. Yes, there’s a lot happening in this story, but I loved the diversity of the characters, their friendships, and the way they related to one another, as well as the whole small-town vibe (not that I can fully understand it even though I’m from a small town myself). One of the many things I appreciate when reading a Nora Roberts story is that I’ll be sucked into the story by the writing, complex characters, and involved storylines. Legacy is an outstanding addition to the Roberts collection and one I recommend to romance readers or those that enjoy complicated suspense thrillers. Legacy is yet another book going on my to-be-reread pile for the year. I’ll also be ordering a print copy of this one for my 86-y.o. mother to read.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 132: MOTHER MAY I by Joshilyn Jackson

MOTHER MAY I by Joshilyn Jackson cover, toy animal carousel laying on the grass

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

ISBN: 9780062855343 (hardcover)

ISBN: 9780062855367 (ebook)

ISBN: 9780063092068 (digital audiobook)

ASIN: B08QDSNDPT (Audible audiobook)

ASIN: B08FT7MQHH (Kindle edition)

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 6, 2021

 
 

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.

Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks.com | AudiobooksNow.com | BookDepository.com | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Two women raised by single parents in poverty in rural Georgia had very different life experiences. One went to a state university, married well, and has three beautiful children along with a loving husband. The other lost her scholarship over a scandal, devolved into a spiraling cycle of drugs and crime. Both women are linked from an event that took place over thirty years ago even though they may not know it until the unimaginable happens.

Sabreena “Bree” Kroger Cabbat simply wanted to watch her eldest daughter’s play rehearsal. Her infant son is sleeping, so she leaves him in his car seat and watches. When she turns back around to check on her son, he’s gone and her nightmare begins. A fellow parent and old hometown friend, Marshall Chase, is on hand and takes her daughters to her mother’s for the weekend after claiming a bout with a stomach virus. When he sees her later that evening, he quickly realizes that there is much more going on than a “stomach virus.” A baby is missing. A man is murdered and Bree, her husband, and his deceased law partner – Spencer Shaw seem to be at the center of this problem. Bree, Marshall (a private detective at the law firm where Bree’s husband works), and another lawyer – Gabrielle Baxter, are working as quickly as possible to try and find the perpetrator as well as the possible motives for the kidnapping and murder. When they discover what Robert Cabbat the Third aka Trey — Bree’s husband and his partner Spence did in college it doesn’t justify the actions of the kidnapper/murderer but it does seem to explain it. What would or wouldn’t a mother do to try and protect her child or avenge the damage and injustice done?

Mother May I is more than a story of mothers protecting their children, it’s a story of bad behavior in college and those who ultimately pay for that behavior. When something bad happens, whether it involves star athletes or the wealthy versus a scholarship or student from a poor family, whose version of the story is believed. This is not just a story of “boys will be boys” but of boys doing something that will have repercussions for years. Mother May I deals with many harsh themes including campus sexual assault, drug abuse, workplace sexual assault, kidnapping, murder, and more. Everyone has a story to be revealed but which version is accurate? No, I won’t tell you! This is something you’ll need to discover for yourself by reading this book. I will say that Ms. Jackson has crafted a nuanced story that kept me wondering where it would lead until the final page. I enjoyed all of the characters, even the bad guys, and even felt some empathy for the reasons why the kidnapper/murdered felt compelled to do what was done (trust me, that makes a lot more sense when you read the story). If you enjoy reading taut mystery thrillers with believable characters, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Mother May I. This is one I’m putting on my to be re-read list.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 67: THE LAST STRAW by Sharon Sala

The Last Straw, The Jigsaw Files #4, by Sharon Sala
ISBN: 9780778331995 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778331438 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780369705440 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488210594 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799959335 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08JH7XP2G (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08HV2DD2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: February 23, 2021

Charlie Dodge may be down, but he’s most definitely not out. He’s still reeling after a series of earth-shattering events, so when a desperate woman hires Dodge Investigations to find her missing sister, the head-scratcher of a case is exactly the distraction Charlie and his steadfast partner, Wyrick, need. Two weeks prior, Rachel Dean disappeared without a trace from her locked-from-the-inside Dallas apartment, and every possible trail has gone cold.

Grappling with the fallout of her efforts to dismantle the shadowy organization Universal Theorem, Wyrick throws herself into her investigative work. Charlie knows his partner can handle herself, but when she uncovers a past connection that paints a target on her back, the threat of losing her hits Charlie hard. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep Wyrick safe, but with the clock ticking on a victim they’ve yet to find, it’s only a matter of time before the cold-blooded killer leads them to a deadly end.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | AudiobooksNow.com | BookDepository.com | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

 
Read an excerpt here.

 
 Readers were introduced to Charlie Dodge of Dodge Investigations and his rather enigmatic, genius associate/partner Jade Wyrick in The Missing Piece. We learned that Charlie is a retired Army Ranger and has been struggling with his wife Annie’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Wyrick (don’t call her Jade), is a multi-millionaire (possibly a billionaire), has invented and patented numerous creations, created a number of popular video games, and owns and operates numerous businesses in addition to assisting Charlie with his private investigation business. Wyrick is also an accomplished pilot and a breast cancer survivor. She opted to forego breast reconstruction after her double mastectomies and sports an intriguing dragon tattoo that covers her chest, a portion of her back, and upper hips. (Wyrick is a mixture of Lizbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on steroids with a bit of Wonder Woman and a heaping dose of Einstein!) Readers also learned that Wyrick was genetically modified by Universal Theorem or UT and although she worked for UT, she was “fired” after she developed cancer because she was seen as defective. Since she survived her bout with cancer against all odds (actually she cured herself), UT has been willing to do anything to get her back. In Blind Faith, book three in this series, we saw Wyrick and Charlie do the seemingly impossible when they find a missing boy in a national park, uncovered the truth behind’s the boy’s accident, and, in Wyrick’s spare time, she released to the public and law enforcement documentation about all of the illegal and unethical practices of UT.

Now, in book four – The Last Straw, Charlie Dodge is now dealing with the death of his wife whilst Wyrick is dealing with the death of her landlord and only other friend, Arthur Merlin. Merlin has left Wyrick his mansion and all of his wealth (not that Wyrick really needed more money, but she’ll put it to good use). On the personal front, Charlie moves into Wyrick’s home after an attempt is made on her life and she’s injured. Now, in addition to being business partners, Wyrick and Charlie have become roommates. Although Wyrick has been adept at keeping people at great distance by her unusual makeup stylings, flamboyant clothes, and terse manners, Charlie soon learns that she is much softer than even he realized. Charlie becomes Wyrick’s protector in addition to her boss/partner now that a new enemy has shown up, a radical cult fronting as a church that wants Wyrick dead. On the business front, Charlie and Wyrick are dealing with a unique locked-door mystery involving a missing woman, Rachel Dean, and trying to deal with a number of assaults against Wyrick’s life. Can he protect Wyrick against these new enemies? Will he ever learn that she is in love with him? Will he be able to reciprocate given the depth of affection he felt for his now deceased wife? Can they solve the locked-door mystery and find the missing woman before it’s too late?

The Last Straw is the fourth and final book in “The Jigsaw Files” series by Sharon Sala. To say that there’s a lot going on with this story is somewhat of an understatement. First up is the locked-door mystery when the missing woman, Rachel Dean, seemingly vanishes from her locked apartment without a trace. Next is the religious cult trying to kill Wyrick because their leader has decided she must be evil due to her knowledge, skills, and abilities. If that’s not enough, Wyrick is now capable of harnessing her healing energy to heal others as well as herself. When the news of her healing abilities is released, people come out of the woodwork trying to get her to heal their loved ones not caring how this impacts Wyrick’s health in the least. Oh, I forget to mention the press conference. Yes, Wyrick holds a press conference with hopes that it will get the cult to back off. They don’t, so Wyrick has to teach them a lesson they same way she taught UT a lesson. The Last Straw is filled with plenty of horrors, attempted murder, kidnapping, rape, torture, murders, and more, but it is also filled with hope, second chances, and love. The Last Straw presents a somewhat kinder, gentler Jade Wyrick that is also able to kick-butt, take names, and make people regret they ever heard about her. Although I can’t give you specifics on each and every thing that occurs in this book, I can tell you that there’s a HEA. So for all of you that enjoy romantic-suspense and if you’ve read The Missing Piece, Second Sight, and Blind Faith, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Last Straw to read. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, I strongly encourage you to grab them all, read them all, and pre-order your copy of The Last Straw. Seriously, people, this is a #mustreadseries! Although I’m sad to see this series end, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these books and look forward to re-reading them in the near future.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 52: THE KINDEST LIE by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
ISBN: 9780063005631 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780063005655 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780063005662 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0872K2Y82 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B086ZRRYCW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021

A promise could betray you.

Its 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks.com | AudiobooksNow.com | BookDepository.com | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook



Read an excerpt here.

 
Ruth Tuttle Shaw is in her late twenties and living her best life in Chicago, Illinois. She has an Ivy-league education, a good job as a chemical engineer, and is married to an amazing, loving, and successful man, Xavier Shaw. They have a wonderful home, a wide circle of friends, and after four years of marriage, her husband is ready to start a family. The only problem is Ruth has never told him about the child she gave up for adoption eleven years earlier. To say that this revelation puts a strain on their marriage is somewhat of an understatement. They quickly go from a major high in celebrating the historic election of the first Black president of the United States to a secret that just might tear their relationship apart. Unsure of how to proceed with Xavier, she decides to head back to Indiana and begin the search for her biological child.

Patrick “Midnight” Boyd, is an eleven-year-old white child living in poverty in Ganton, Indiana. His mother died from preeclampsia when he was seven years old and he currently lives with his maternal grandmother. Midnight has one functional arm due to nerve damage in the other caused by some boys intentionally setting him on fire. His best friend is Corey Cunningham, a Black kid and the primary reason he was set on fire, for defending his friend of a different race. Midnight is unaware of his privilege as a White boy and only sees that Corey has more money and a better home life and family than he does. When he learns that might be sent to live with relatives in Louisiana, his fear of leaving all that he’s known and his jealousy of his friend begin to eat him up. After learning a secret about Corey, that jealousy becomes so overpowering that it just might lead to something neither he nor Corey will be able to come back from in a community that is torn behind poverty and racial animosity.

The Kindest Lie is told in alternating voices of Ruth, a twenty-something Black female and Midnight, a White tween male. The only things they appear to have in common are being raised in near poverty in the same small town. But Ruth’s maternal grandparents and Midnight’s maternal grandparents were actually good friends back in the day. Ruth and her brother were raised by their maternal grandparents and Midnight is being raised by his maternal grandmother. Ruth attempts to befriend Midnight and the two seem to be more different than the same, superficially. However, both are seeking answers to questions about family and love although they are going about in different ways. The Kindest Lie is a story about hope, love, motherhood, family, race relations, secrets, dreams, dreams deferred, as well as the lies we tell ourselves and to others. It’s also a story about what family is willing to do to make some of those dreams come true. For those of you that have read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett or Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. If you’re interested in reading a well-written debut novel that tackles hard questions in a hopeful manner, again, you’ll want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. This book is one of my #mustread recommendations for 2021.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 42: WILD RAIN by Beverly Jenkins

Wild Rain, Women Who Dare #2, by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062861719 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780063075153 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062861726 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062861733 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07ZTVKBPW (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07ZP1NLD8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: February 9, 2021

The second novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ compelling new Women Who Dare series follows a female rancher in Wyoming after the Civil War.

A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister, Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met.

But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

 
 
Read an excerpt here.
 
 I was rather late in discovering Beverly Jenkins, but when I did I rapidly devoured every title of hers I could find. I’m a huge fan of her contemporary fiction the “Blessings” series (and it’s being developed into a television show). But I was introduced to her via her historical fiction and I reread all of them every year. (Yes, you read that correctly. I re-read all of her historical fiction titles every year!) I kicked off this year by re-reading her “Old West” series, and I’m glad I did because book three of that series introduced us to the Lees of Wyoming, Dr. Colton Lee, his sister, Spring Lee, and their cantankerous grandfather, Lee. Although it wasn’t necessary to read Tempest before reading Wild Rain, it helped to refresh my memory a bit. (Hey, you try reading 450+ books a year and see if you can remember all of the details of every book read!)

Wild Rain is the second book in the Women Who Dare series and the action takes place a few months after Tempest ended. Tempest featured Colton Lee and his relationship with his wife, Regan Carmichael Lee. Wild Rain centers on Spring Lee, her developing relationship with Garrett McCray, a reporter from the East trying to help his father’s sundown newspaper survive by bringing in stories of intriguing people of color from the US territories, namely Dr. Colton Lee. However, once Garrett McCray arrives in Wyoming territory, he finds that he is ill-prepared for riding horseback most of the day, days filled with snow, and his encounters with the unique Spring Rain Lee. Spring winds up saving Garrett on numerous occasions and introduces him to the folks in and around Paradise. Just when it seems as if Garrett is beginning to acclimate himself to life in Paradise and spending time with Spring, someone from her past makes an appearance in town and revives stories that belittle and demean her as a woman of worth. Can Garrett accept his attraction to a woman willing to stand up for herself and go against the norms of the time or will he succumb to his family wishes and return to D.C. and a life filled with constraints?

Although I had been looking forward to the next installment in the Women Who Dare series by Beverly Jenkins, I had no idea it was centered on a character from a previous book. Yes, I should have known and would have known if I had just read the synopsis. But all I saw was a new Beverly Jenkins book, historical fiction, and it was “hey, count me in!” Readers were introduced to a bit of Spring Lee’s backstory in the book Tempest, but Ms. Jenkins provides quite a bit more in Wild Rain. We’re also provided more information about Colton and Spring’s paternal grandmother, and parents. It was quite nice getting to know more about Spring and her family heritage and it helped to explain why she made the decisions made in the past and why she lives as she does in the present. To say that Spring had a bit of a harsh upbringing after her parents’ death would be a major understatement and most of that rests with her paternal grandfather, Ben. Garrett McCray was an interesting male protagonist. He was a former slave, former sailor during the Civil War, a skilled carpenter, and a reporter for a sundown newspaper (a newspaper that people worked on part-time basis after they worked their full-time jobs, usually after the sun went down). Initially, Garrett was taken aback by Spring’s lack of a male guardian, the fact that she owned and operated her own ranch, wore what he considered male clothing meaning denims, and went into saloons, but he grows to respect and love her for exactly who she is. Ms. Jenkins always provides interesting tidbits of Black American history in her fiction and her books usually feature an author’s note at the end with a list of suggested reading (just one of the many reasons I enjoy reading her books). Wild Rain is a romance so of course it has a HEA, but you’ll need to read it to find out how the couple arrives at their “Happy Ever After.” There’s plenty of drama and even trauma before they get there. If you’ve read Tempest, then you’ll definitely want to read Wild Rain. If you read Rebel, book 1 in the Women Who Dare series, then you should grab a copy of Wild Rain to read. If you enjoy reading historical romance or simply well-crafted romance, then I suggest you grab a copy of Wild Rain to read. For all you Ms. Bevy fans, I don’t have to tell you anything because I know you already have this one on your TBR list or you’ve pre-ordered it. I’ll be ordering a print copy to give to my 86-y.o. mother now that I have her hooked on reading Ms. Bevy’s books. Hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I did.
 

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 37: FAITHLESS IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

Faithless In Death, In Death #52, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250272744 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272751 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250787828 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250787859 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B0889FH56N (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B086ZXF6MR (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 9, 2021

In the new Eve Dallas police thriller from #1 New York Times-bestselling author J. D. Robb, what looked like a lover’s quarrel turned fatal has larger—and more terrifying—motives behind it…

The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wineglasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body—but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within—and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

One of the many things I look forward to at the beginning of each year are the new releases in the In Death series as well as other books by favorite authors. Faithless In Death picks up with Eve doing paperwork after the Cobbe event Shadows in Death and, of course, there’s a new murder. Her witness is a liar and also has ties to one of the patrol officers in Eve’s division. Eve and Delia quickly discern that their witness is not only a liar but someone that tries to manipulate others to get her way and the sole reason why is for monetary gain. Her parents will stipulate she must marry a Caucasian male and have a child in order to inherit her trust fund before age 35 or she’s cut off completely. The only problem with that stipulation is that she’s a lesbian and her fiance is completely clueless. One would hope that by 2061, such petty things as racial prejudice, prejudice against sexual orientation, and notions of racial superiority would have died out. But in this fictional world (and something tells me in the real world as well), these prejudices are alive and well. It begins with the murder of a multiracial, lesbian artist and the alibi by the witness leads Eve Dallas and her trusty sidekick, Delia Peabody, along with Eve’s uber-wealthy husband, Roarke, into the shadowy world of what can only be called an alt-right, ultra-conservative, white supremacists religious organization called the Natural Order. The group graciously allows people of inferior birth, i.e., lower races to join, but keeps them segregated and forces them to wear color-coded clothing to ensure they remain separated. Women are considered inferior to men and good for only one thing, childbearing and are forced to do so, if necessary. One murder uncovers a plethora of evil by this group and Eve, the New York Police and Safety Department, the FBI, Interpol, and Homeland Security and are all working diligently to shut it down as quickly as possible so that none of the leaders are able to get away without being duly charged for their crimes.

As with most of the In Death stories, there’s a lot of action going on in this story. I was happy to see a brief appearance of Mavis, Leonardo, and Bella (y’all, they bought a house!). Nadine reappears in this story although not as prominently as in the past, as does Dr. Mira. However, Feeney, McNab, are all duly noted throughout the story. As previously mentioned, Faithless In Death features a lot of action, namely murder, spousal abuse, child abuse (although not directly seen), rape is mentioned as is drug abuse and suicide, embezzlement, forced sexual re-orientation therapy, forced marriage, trafficking, cults, and more. There were definitely some dark elements to this story, but not as dark as some of the previous stories. I felt that Ms. Robb presented the story in a respectful manner yet stayed true to the themes being presented, and that is often difficult to do when dealing with stories of abuse. This story was much more about the case than it was about the people doing the investigation and perhaps that’s because we’ve become so invested in these characters, they feel like family after 50+ books. I enjoyed reading Faithless In Death and recommend it to anyone that’s read and enjoyed this series. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Eve Dallas, Roarke, Delia Peabody, Ian McNab, etc.
 

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 15: DEEP INTO THE DARK by P. J. Tracy

Deep Into The Dark, Detective Margaret Nolan #1, by P. J. Tracy
ISBN: 9781250754943 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250783578 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250790071 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B088ML1NXZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08BKL7N6K (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Sam Easton—a true survivor—is home from Afghanistan, trying to rebuild a life in his hometown of LA. Separated from his wife, bartending and therapy sessions are what occupy his days and nights. When friend and colleague Melody Traeger is beaten by her boyfriend, she turns to Sam for help. When the boyfriend turns up dead the next day, a hard case like Sam is the perfect suspect.

But LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, whose brother recently died serving overseas, is sympathetic to Sam’s troubles, and can’t quite see him as a killer. She’s more interested in the secrets Melody might be keeping and the developments in another murder case on the other side of town.

Set in an LA where real people live and work—not the superficial LA of Beverly Hills or the gritty underbelly of the city—Deep into the Dark features two really engaging, dynamic main characters and explores the nature of obsession, revenge, and grief.

P. J. Tracy is known for her “fast, fresh, and funny” characters (Harlan Coben) and her “sizzling” plots (People); the Monkeewrench series was her first, set in Minneapolis and co-written with her mother. Now with Deep into the Dark she’s on her own—and it’s a home run.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | AudiobooksNow | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Read an excerpt by clicking here.

Good day, book people. I know some of you struggled with reading during 2020, but it was a banner year for me. Although I’m a bit ahead of my reading schedule for 2021, I’ve been struggling with my reading for the past few days. This is partially due to renewed tech device issues (yes, I killed another tablet and then I had to wait for the new tablet to arrive, set it up, and transfer most of my 9700+ ebooks to said new device; apparently tablets aren’t designed to be used 15+ hours/day. Who knew?!) and a series of severe migraine headaches. As a result, it took me several days to get into Deep Into the Dark. I struggled with the first perhaps 15-20% of the book (it’s difficult to provide page numbers when I’m reading a digital review copy and only see percent read, sorry) and that took the better part of the first two days. Perhaps my inability to read it in one sitting was due to the frustration over tech device issues (I had numerous issues with one reading app and it gave me nightmares after installing the app, attempting to download some of the 4100+ titles owned via this company, then removing/reinstalling it several times before it actually worked and allowed me to download anything, whew!). Then again, it might have been due to the severe pain from the migraine headaches. I can’t say for sure what the cause was but once I made it past the 20% mark, I was hooked on this story. I needed to learn more about Sam Easton and Melody Traeger and their dark places and pasts. I needed to know more about the police investigation into the serial murders and then the murders linked to Sam and Melody. I simply needed to know more.

I’ve read all of the Monkeewrench series by P.J. Tracy and was looking forward to reading the start of this new series. Although Deep Into the Dark got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, I’m hooked. I enjoyed the twists and turns the multiple storylines took. I enjoyed the friendship and similarities between Sam and Melody in terms of their past traumas and shared current experiences. I liked Margaret Nolan and the only drawback, if any, is that I didn’t feel that I got to know her as much as I got to know Sam and Melody. All of the primary characters are realistically flawed and quite human rather than caricatures or stereotypes. The action within the story was believable and the secondary characters were just as relatable and realistic as the primary characters. Deep Into the Dark is a psychological thriller with several mystery storylines happening, and also introduces characters dealing with marital separation, marital infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder, continued drug recovery, attempts at alcohol recovery, physical abuse, survivor guilt, and murder. Ms. Tracy provides the reader with just enough information about the twin mysteries to keep you guessing until the bitter end. I can’t reveal any more without revealing too much, but if you have read the Monkeewrench series, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark. For those of you that enjoy psychological thrillers filled with plenty of dark twists, then I suggest you grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark as well. If you’re not sure about psychological thrillers but just want something a bit out of your comfort zone to read this year, then please add Deep Into the Dark to your TBR list, it won’t disappoint. For now, I’m patiently awaiting the next release in this series and, who knows, perhaps I’ll be re-reading Deep Into the Dark while I wait.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer:
I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 3: THE FORTUNATE ONES by Ed Tarkington

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

ISBN: 9781616206802 (hardcover)

ISBN: 9781643751078 (ebook)

ISBN: 9781649040237 (audiobook)

ISBN: 9781664709461 (audiobook on CD)

ASIN: B08QXZMS9Q (Audible audiobook)

ASIN: B08519FF6Z (Kindle edition)

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Release Date: January 5, 2021

The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?

But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?

The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo eBook

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington has been called a contemporary The Great Gatsby, and I can definitely see the similarities. Charlie Boykin is definitely from the “have nots” and the wrong-side of town according to those in the know in Nashville society. His life changes, possibly for the better and then again maybe not, when he is provided a scholarship to an elite all-boys school and is befriended by Archer Creigh. Over the course of Charlie’s high school career, he eventually moves away from the wrong-side of town when his mother is offered a job as a personal assistant to a wealthy society matron. That move changes Charlie’s life forever. It isn’t just the disparity between the haves and the have-nots that shakes Charlie up, it’s the “affluenza” and, for lack of a better phrase, “white privilege” that he bears witness to that finally pushes him away from his family and friends permanently.

I’m going to go out a limb here and say that I didn’t really like The Great Gatsby, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Fortunate Ones. I liked the way Mr. Tarkington told the story, in almost a flashback mode, by taking us from Charlie’s present life to his past and then brought us back to the present. Although Charlie is the focal point of the story, the reader gets to know all of the secondary characters through Charlie’s eyes. I enjoyed reading about his friendships in high school, his return to Nashville in his late 20s, and his final departure from the life he knew but grew to despise. There’s a lot to take in with this story, including: class, racism, closeted homosexuality, mental illness, suicide, marital infidelity, affluenza/white privilege, love, the psychological toll of trying to be something and someone you’re not, loyalty, and more. Mr. Tarkington has crafted a coming-of-age story that pulled this reader in from the first chapter until the very end. For those of you that actually enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby and are interested in a modern retelling, then I highly recommend The Fortunate Ones. For those that are like me and didn’t exactly care for The Great Gatsby or didn’t read it, I still encourage you to grab a copy of The Fortunate Ones to read. This is my first #mustread recommendation for the year, folks. Now, go grab yourself a copy!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 2: THE WIFE UPSTAIRS by Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
ISBN: 9781250245496 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250245519 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250752451 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250752468 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DRR2K6X (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08BKLVZRJ (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks | AudiobooksNow | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

I debated internally over whether I would post this review on my blog or not, but then decided to go for it. I had been looking forward to reading The Wife Upstairs ever since I heard it was a modern, Southern gothic take on Jane Eyre. If you follow me on social media, then you probably know that Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite classic novels. I've read several retellings of this book and enjoyed them all, well up until now. I really wanted to like this book, especially after reading some of the advance reviews and praise. Sadly, this one just didn't work for me. I can't point to any one thing about this book that I didn't like other than I'm very upset over the fact that Jane isn't very likeable, is a thief, and isn't even a Jane (you'll need to read the book to understand that part). 
I found this to be somewhat of a slow read and actually had to set it aside several times before I could actually start it and read through to the end. The first third of the book seemed to go very slow and I didn't care about any of the characters. Normally having unlikeable characters isn't an issue, but perhaps because this is an adaptation of my favorite book it became a problem for me. The one interesting thing was that the book was told from multiple viewpoints, that of Jane and of Bea (aka Bertha Mason Rochester). I didn't really become invested into the action within this story until the last few chapters of the book. This just might be one of those books that readers even love or hate. I don't "hate" it, but it just didn't grab me the way I had hoped. Well-written? Yes! Interesting premise? Again, yes, but there was just something that didn't quite come together to make this an intriguing or gripping read for this reader. Hopefully I'll be able to pick this one up in a few months and tell you differently. If you grab a copy of The Wife Upstairs then I hope that you're in the "love it" reader camp.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”