2015 Book 91: FULL TILT Review

Full Tilt by Rick Mofina
ISBN: 9780778317456 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781474027861 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OHV6MBO (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: MIRA

SCREAMS IN THE NIGHT…

Deep in the woods of upstate New York a woman flees a blazing barn. She is burned beyond recognition, and her dying words point police to a labyrinth of “confinement rooms”—rooms designed to hold human beings captive—where they make other chilling discoveries.

A GUT-WRENCHING PHONE CALL…

In Manhattan, Kate Page, a single mom and reporter with a newswire service, receives a heart-stopping call from a detective on the case. A guardian angel charm found at the scene fits the description of the one belonging to Kate’s sister, Vanessa, who washed away after a car crash in a mountain river twenty years ago.

A LIFE-AND-DEATH RACE AGAINST TIME

Kate has spent much of her life searching for the truth behind her little sister’s disappearance. Now, a manhunt for a killer who’s kept a collection of victims prisoner for years without detection becomes her final chance to either mourn Vanessa’s death—or save her life.



Kate Page suffered devastation after devastation as a child. Her happy family was torn apart when her parents died in a hotel fire. She and her younger sister were bounced from one family member to another before winding up in foster care. Her foster parents then died in a tragic car accident. That same car accident also took the life of her younger sister, Vanessa, or did it? Evidence found at a current murder scene points to the possibility that Vanessa may have survived the car accident. Is it possible she survived that tragedy only to become the victim of a sadistic serial rapist and murderer? 

What do you do if you think your long presumed dead sister is the victim of a serial abductor/murderer? Well, if you’re a news reporter and Kate Page you report on the story and launch your own investigation to uncover as much information as possible about the murderer. The more Kate uncovers about the life of this twisted killer, the more she places the life of her sister, and possibly herself in peril. Kate’s investigation and reports place her on the hit list of the killer. Will the killer be able to exact his revenge against Kate? Will law enforcement be able to find Vanessa before it’s too late? 

Full Tilt was a fast-paced suspense thriller read and the second book in the Kate Page series (Whirlwind is the first in this series). I found the characters to be wholly realistic and the action believable. Kate’s investigation takes her all across the United States and Canada. I did find parts of the ending to be somewhat predictable, but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. Mr. Mofina provides an amazing cast of characters that include: Kate, Kate’s daughter Grace, Kate’s bosses – Reeka Beck and Chuck Laneer, various other news people, assorted law enforcement officers in the United States and Canada, Viper the computer hacker, the victims, and the killer. I really liked Kate and could appreciate her unwillingness to abide by the restrictions placed upon her by law enforcement and her employer when it came to finding her sister. If you’re looking for a taut, well-written suspense thriller to read, look no further; add Full Tilt to your TBR list or simply grab a copy to read as soon as possible.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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2015 Book 1: BROKEN BONDS Review

Broken Bonds (Cold Creek #3) by Karen Harper
ISBN: 9780778317357 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460345818 (ebook)
ASIN: B00LZCR988 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: MIRA


Haunted by the past… 

Cold Creek is a place with a dark history, especially for the Lockwoods. Now adults, the three Lockwood sisters are still recovering from the events that led to the destruction of their family when they were children. Determined to move forward, Tess and Kate are making fresh starts, ready to put bad—even deadly—memories to rest and settle happily in the small but booming town. And they’re hoping their older sister, Charlene, can do the same. 

Char is back in town seeking comfort as she figures out her next move. A social worker used to difficult situations, she soon runs afoul of some locals who think she’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. She’s certain something sinister is being covered up, and when she witnesses Matt Rowan being run off the road, she knows she’s right. 

Working together, Matt and Char figure uncovering the truth will be dangerous, but living in Cold Creek won’t be safe for any of them until its secrets are revealed.



Charlene “Char” Lockwood has left the American Southwest to return home. She thought that coming home and being with her sisters would be a great new start, but her work as a social worker often has her at odds with some of the more rural people in Cold Creek. When Char witnesses a local businessman, Matt Rowan, being run off the road, it’s the beginning of an all new adventure. Char Lockwood isn’t one to run away from trouble and soon she finds herself in the midst of the worst trouble possible.

Char Lockwood is just as headstrong as her sisters, but even they feel that she may be in a situation that she can’t handle. Witnessing one vicious accident soon turns into amateur detective hour with Char and the person she rescued, Matt Rowan, on the trail of possible environmental misconduct, possible murder at a local cult, and the possible murder of one of Matt’s employees. Ms. Harper has included a wild cast of characters including an overzealous bodyguard to Matt’s partner, an inquisitive sports director, a veteran suffering from severe PTSD, environmental protesters, a cult leader that thinks he’s God, and the head of a fracking business (who just happens to be Matt’s partner and family friend). 

I have enjoyed reading many of Ms. Harper’s books in the past, but regrettably Broken Bonds isn’t one of them. I found this to be a somewhat difficult read simply because of the weird cast of characters, a somewhat tangled weave of multiple storylines, the amateurish detective work of Char and Matt, and the we met-took one look-and fell in love romance between the two main characters. Throw in the twist due to the fracking and it was just a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, this was a well-written story but I just felt a bit lost at times and thought the story had too much going on (perhaps I should read all of the books in this series). This doesn’t mean that I won’t be running out to grab the next book by Ms. Harper, because I will. For now I’m attributing my response to this book to the winter blahs coupled with chronic migraine pain.  

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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Book 338: INNOCENT PREY Review

Innocent Prey (Brown and de Luca #3) by Maggie Shayne
ISBN: 9780778316589 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460340219 (ebook)
ASIN: B00JZFPH4U (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 1, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

To save innocent lives, they’ll have to risk their own. 

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge’s daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it’s connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel’s assistant. 

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there’s no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he’ll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel’s uncanny capacity to see through people’s lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?



Rachel de Luca and Mason Brown are back and in prime form in Innocent Prey. Mason is asked to look into the disappearance of a judge’s blind daughter, Stevie, and keep it off-the-record. Mason enlists Rachel’s assistance on the case because she adds a little something extra with her NFP (not-f***ing-psychic) abilities. The more they dig into Stevie’s disappearance, the more they feel this is an abduction that has possible ties to the abduction last year of Rachel’s assistant. Before they know it, this case isn’t just the abduction of one young girl but of nine girls and all ties lead back to the judge.

Innocent Prey is the third installment in the Brown and de Luca series by Maggie Shayne. Rachel is in a no-holds-barred frame of mind and speaks her mind with no fear of the consequences. She’s also finally adapting to the idea that her vision is here to stay. What she isn’t adapting to is the possibility that she may have psychic tendencies, such as the ability to read emotions, and gain information from a simple touch. Her refusal to accept these abilities as being from the psychic spectrum gives rise to new nomenclature, NFP. In addition to Rachel’s forceful attitude, this story shows the progression of Rachel and Mason’s relationship. Both are afraid to use the L-word, but it quickly becomes clear that they do love one another.

I found Innocent Prey to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I particularly liked Ms. Shayne’s inclusion of pop culture references and Rachel’s snarky sense of humor. Innocent Prey is a great addition to the de Luca and Brown series and combines romance, suspense, the paranormal, humor, and family drama into one great story. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you’ll definitely want to read them all: Sleep With the Lights On (Brown and de Luca #1), Dream of Danger (Brown and de Luca #1.5), and Wake to Darkness (Brown and de Luca #2). I’ve enjoyed reading this series and I’m looking forward to Deadly Obsession (Brown and de Luca #4) scheduled for release later this year.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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Book 337: GOING GONE Review

Going Gone by Sharon Sala
ISBN: 9780778316596 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460340226 (ebook)
ASIN: B00JZFPHQS (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: MIRA


The final storm of the season could be her last.

After barely escaping death when her plane crashed deep in the Rocky Mountains during tornado season, Laura Doyle is left with a lingering fear for her life. Her lover, FBI agent Cameron Winger, reassures her that he found her then and always will. But Laura is right to be afraid, because when their engagement is announced it signals to a madman that it’s time for his killing spree to begin again.

Twice thwarted by Cameron and his partners, the Stormchaser pairs random acts of God with deliberate acts of evil. His final act of vengeance will finish his twisted vendetta by taking from Cameron the thing he loves most: Laura.

As law enforcement struggles to connect the gruesome murders he’s committed to mask his return, the Stormchaser draws closer to his true target. But Cameron and Laura don’t realize they’re in the eye of the storm—and this time, being unprepared for the onslaught could spell disaster.



Laura Doyle is normally a sensible, logical, and highly competent and capable person, but that seems to change after she survives a plane crash. She is the sole survivor onboard the plane and must make do with the limited supplies on board while trying to outsmart the wolves attempting to get in. Fortunately, the crash site is found and she is rescued, but she still has the overwhelming sense of fear and impending doom. Her suspicions become reality when her fiancé, Cameron Winger, realizes that the madman he’s been searching for is still alive and may be coming for them.

Going Gone is the third and final book in the Forces of Nature series by Sharon Sala. This book focuses on the last couple, FBI agent Cameron Winger and his fiancée, Laura Doyle, a disaster coordinator with the Red Cross. Once again, the team of agents attempt to track down their wily prey, Herschel Inman, now known as Paul Leibowitz. As more people are murdered in and around their hometowns, will they be able to catch this killer before it’s too late. I found Going Gone to be a fast-paced read. I enjoyed the focus on new primary characters, Laura and Cameron, as well as their interactions with the other couples from this series: Nola and Tate Benton (featured in Going Once) and Jo and Wade Luckett (featured in Going Twice). Although I found this to be an enjoyable read, it had a distinctly been-there read-that feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a poorly written story but the plot just seemed all too familiar. This was a romantic-suspense read that was heavy on the suspense and light on the romance (sex yes, romance not so much). The best part of the story for me was the interaction between Herschel and his dead wife Louise (either evidence of mental illness or extreme guilt). I also enjoyed Ms. Lucy Taft, a minor character, but one feisty, spirited, and highly intelligent older woman. If you’ve read the previous books in this series, then you’ll definitely want to read this final chapter. If you haven’t read the previous books in this series but are looking for a light read for the fall, then you may want to grab a copy of Going Gone.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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Book 336: THE WONDER OF ALL THINGS Review

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott
ISBN: 9780778316527 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781460330371 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781491536766 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B00IWTYWQY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: MIRA


From critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott comes a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice and the power of miracles. 

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear. Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost, her own health, and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.



Stone Temple, North Carolina is a typical small town, until one of their own returns home to participate in an air show and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of two families. Ava Campbell was nothing special to anyone other than her family and friends until the day of the air show. After a horrific crash, Ava and Wash are trapped in a crumbling concrete silo. Wash is seriously injured and the only thing that comes to Ava’s mind is that she doesn’t want her friend to die. It is then that the miracle occurs and Ava, Wash, and Stone Temple will never be the same.

Ava and Wash have been best friends since they were five years old, and that feeling of closeness hasn’t changed now that they are thirteen. Both Ava and Wash have lived through the deaths of their mothers, and Ava knows that she can’t bear to lose anyone else in her life. Now that she is called a “miracle worker” and a “healer,” everyone wants to know how she did what she did to heal Wash. Many people have come to small Stone Temple expecting her to perform miracles for their loved ones. Scientists and physicians want to study Ava to learn how she performed her miracle. Religious leaders want her to join with them and celebrate her gift from God. Others simply want to be healed. What these people don’t know or seem to understand is that each time Ava performs a healing, her health is greatly compromised. After her initial healing of Wash, Ava lapsed into a coma for a few days. Now she’s losing weight, can’t get warm, and is throwing up bile and blood. How much responsibility do we have for others? Is it possible to give too much of ourselves in support of others? 

The Wonder of All Things is Jason Mott’s second novel and is just as wondrous and captivating as his first, The Returned. I found The Wonder of All Things to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. There aren’t any bad guys in the story, just horrible circumstances that force seemingly good people to place their wants and desires above all else. Ava is a typical thirteen-year-old. She’s coming to grips with her father’s remarriage and her stepmother’s pregnancy. Ava’s family lives in a small house, in desperate need of repair. Her father works as the town sheriff and her stepmother is a schoolteacher (I know shades of The Andy Griffith Show but it works). Her best friend Wash lives with his grandmother, and loves to read and sing. There are several smaller subplots at work within the major plot, including Ava’s dislike for her stepmother, Wash and a life-threatening diagnosis and the reappearance of his father, and a well-respected and famous television pastor and his younger, brain-damaged brother. The only people that don’t seem to expect anything of Ava now that she has these amazing healing abilities are her father, her best friend, and her best friend’s grandmother. There were moments in the story that I simply had to put the book down and walk away for a bit simply because it was becoming too sad for me to go on. The action of the story seems to take place over a few short weeks, but Mr. Mott has crammed a lot into those weeks (again, it works). If you’re looking for a story that deals with love and sacrifice, family drama, small town life, and miracles, then this is the book for you. If you’re simply looking for something a little different to read, then this is it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Wonder of All Things (even if it did make me cry) and look forward to reading more from this author.


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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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Book 273: THE GOOD GIRL Review

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
ISBN: 9780778316558 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488710452 (ebook)
ASIN: B00IB5BSBG (Kindle edition)

Publication date: July 29, 2014

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA


“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.” 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. 

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter. 

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems. . .



If you were to meet Mia Dennett in person you wouldn’t think she came from wealth, but she does. For most of her life Mia has rebelled against her parents and their version of acceptable society. She was the proverbial wild-child and went against her father’s wishes and studied art in college rather than law. As a young twenty-something teacher, Mia has made a life for herself outside the society group she rebelled against. She has limited contact with her parents and is admired by her students and fellow teachers. When Mia doesn’t show up at school for a few days it is her school teacher friend that launches a missing person report, not her parents. Police detective Gabe Hoffman has to literally fight with the Dennett family to prove to them that she did not run away from her responsibilities but may, in fact, have been abducted. The question becomes can Mia be found before it’s too late? Who wanted Mia taken out of the picture and why?

Mary Kubica does an admirable job answering those questions and presenting a view of Mia before, during, and after her abduction. The Mia from before was rather free-spirited but always made sure her students had what they needed. Mia isn’t an irresponsible adult, just a nonconformist. During the abduction she alternates between being subdued, frightened, and angry. Mia after the abduction comes across as fragile and epitomizes the “good girl” daughter her parents always wanted. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I read comparisons between The Good Girl and Gone Girl (usually these comparisons set the reader up for disappointment – this time it didn’t). Yes both stories are thrillers. Yes both stories explore the darker side of humanity. And yes, both stories have an unexpected twist at the end, but those similarities are superficial at best. The Good Girl is simply a darn good read, as was Gone Girl. The characters are multidimensional, realistically flawed, and wholly believable. There are good guys, not so good guys, and bad guys and sometimes it may be difficult to tell who’s a good guy and who’s bad. (Trust me you’ll understand and be able to figure it out while you’re reading the story.) I liked the unexpected twist at the end and never could have predicted it (No! I’m not telling you what the twist is in the story . . . read it!). If you enjoy mystery-suspense thrillers or just want to read a good book then I you’ll definitely want to add The Good Girl to your reading list.



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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes 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.”



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Showcase Post: EVENING STARS by Susan Mallery

Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery
ISBN:  9780778316130 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781488710117 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00FNJVSX6 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication date: February 25, 2014

Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More “Mom” than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school—and her first love—so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn’t exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina’s life has suddenly become…complicated. 

Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger maverick pilot who also wants to claim her heart. But as fun as all this romance is, Nina has real life to deal with. Averil doesn’t seem to want the great guy she’s married to, and doesn’t seem to be making headway writing her first book; their mom is living life just as recklessly as she always has; and Nina’s starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping out of her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever. 

But before Nina and Averil can reach for the stars, they have to decide what they want. Will Averil stay? Will Nina leave? And what about the men who claim to love them? Does love heal, or will finding their happy ending mean giving up all they’ve ever wanted?




Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

In a battle between Betty Boop and multicolored hearts, Nina Wentworth decided it was going to be a Betty Boop kind of day. She pulled the short-sleeved scrub shirt over her head and was already moving toward the bathroom before the fabric settled over her hips.

“Don’t be snug, don’t be snug,” she chanted as she came to a stop in front of the mirror and reached for her brush.

The shirt settled as it should, with a couple of inches to spare. Nina breathed a sigh of relief. Last night’s incident with three brownies and a rather large glass of red wine hadn’t made a lasting impression on her hips. She was grateful, and she would repent later on an elliptical. Or at least vow to eat her brownies one at a time.

Ten seconds of brushing, one minute of braiding and her blond hair was neat and tidy. She dashed out into the hall, toward the kitchen where she grabbed her car keys and nearly made it to the back door. Just as she was reaching for the knob, the house phone rang.

Nina glanced from the clock to the phone. Everyone in her world—friends, family, work—had her cell. Very few calls came on the antiquated landline, and none of them were good news. Nina retraced her steps and braced herself for disaster.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Nina. It’s Jerry down at Too Good To Be True. I just opened, and there’s a lady here trying to sell a box of crap, ah, stuff. I think it’s from the store.”

Nina closed her eyes as she held in a groan. “Let me guess. Early twenties, red hair with purple streaks and a tattoo of a weird bird on her neck?”

“That’s her. She’s glaring at me something fierce. You think she’s armed?”

“I hope not.”

“Me, too.” Jerry didn’t sound especially concerned. “What’s her name?”

“Tanya.”

If Nina had more time, she would have collapsed right there on the floor. But she had a real job to get to. A job unrelated to the disaster that was the family’s antique store.

“You let your mom hire her, huh?” Jerry asked.

“Yes.”

“You know better.”

“That I do. I’ll call the police and ask them to pick up Tanya. Can you keep her there until they get there?”

“Sure thing, kid.”

“Great. And I’ll be by after work to pick up the stuff.”

“I’ll hold it for you,” Jerry promised.

“Thanks.”

Nina hung up and hurried to her car. After her cell connected to the Bluetooth, she called the local sheriff’s department and explained what happened.

“Again?” Deputy Sam Payton asked, his voice thick with amusement.

“Did you let your mom hire this employee?”

Nina carefully backed out of the driveway. Jerry’s humor she could handle. He’d lived here all his life—he was allowed to tease her. But Sam was relatively new. He hadn’t earned mocking rights.

“Hey, tax-paying citizen here, reporting a crime,” she said.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m writing it down. What’d she take?”

“I didn’t ask. She’s at the pawn shop. Too Good To Be True.”

“I know it,” Deputy Sam told her. “I’ll head out and see what’s what.”

“Thanks.”

She hung up before he could offer advice on hiring policies and turned up the hill. The morning was clear—odd for early spring in the Pacific Northwest. Normally the good weather didn’t kick in until closer to summer. To the west, blue water sparkled. To the east was western Washington.

As she climbed higher and higher, the view got better, but when she parked across from the three Queen Anne houses at the very top of the hill, pausing to enjoy the spectacular combination of sky and ocean was the last thing on her mind.

She hurried up the steps to the front porch that was both her boss’s home and her office. Dr. Andi, as she was known, was a popular pediatrician on the island. Make that the only pediatrician. She’d moved here a year ago, opened her practice in September and had been thriving ever since. She was also a newlywed and, as of two months ago, pregnant.

Nina unlocked the front door and stepped inside. She flipped on lights as she went, confirmed the temperature on the thermostat and then started the three computers in the front office.

After storing her purse in her locker, she logged in to the scheduling program and saw that the first appointment of the day had canceled. Andi would appreciate the extra time to get herself moving. She was still battling morning sickness.

Nina did a quick check of her email, forwarded several items to the bookkeeper/office manager, then walked to the break room for coffee. Less than five minutes after she’d arrived, she was climbing the stairs to her boss’s private quarters.

Nina knocked once before entering. She found Andi, a tall, pretty brunette with curly hair, sitting at the table in the kitchen. Her arms cradled her head.

“Still bad?” Nina asked, walking to the cupboard.

“Hi and yes. It’s not that I throw up, it’s that I feel like I’m going to every single second.” She raised her head and drew in a breath. “Are you drinking coffee?”

“Yes.”

“I miss coffee. I’m a wreck. I need to talk to my parents about my ancestors. Obviously I don’t come from hardy stock.”

Nina took down a mug, filled it with water and put it in the microwave. Then she collected a tea bag from the pantry.

“Not ginger tea,” Andi said with a moan. “Please. I hate it.”

“But it helps.”

“I’d rather feel sick.”

Nina raised her eyebrows.

Andi slumped in her seat. “I’m such a failure. Look at me. I’m carrying around a child the size of a lima bean and I’m throwing a hissy fit. It’s embarrassing.”

“And yet the need to act mature doesn’t seem to be kicking in.”

Andi smiled. “Funny how that works.”

The microwaved dinged. Nina dropped the tea bag into the steaming water and crossed to the table.

The eat-in kitchen was open, with painted cabinets and lots of granite. The big window by the table took advantage of the east-facing views in the old house. The mainland shimmered only a few miles away.

Andi had bought the house—one of three up on the hill—when she’d moved to Blackberry Island. Undeterred by the broken windows and outdated plumbing, she’d had the house restored from the framework out. During the process, she’d fallen in love with her contractor. Which had led to her current tummy problems.

“Your first appointment canceled,” Nina told her.

“Thank God.” Andi sniffed the tea, then wrinkled her nose and took a sip. “It’s the ginger. If I could have tea without ginger I think I could get it down.”

“The thing is, the ginger is the part that settles your stomach.”

“Life is perverse like that.” Andi took another sip, then smiled. “I like the shirt.”

Nina glanced down at the pattern. “Betty and I go way back.”

One of the advantages of working for a pediatrician was that cheerful attire was encouraged. She had a collection of brightly colored fun shirts in her closet. It wasn’t high fashion, but it helped the kids smile and that was what mattered.

“I need to get back downstairs,” she said. “Your first appointment is now at eight-thirty.”

“Okay.”

Nina rose and started toward the stairs.

“Are you busy after work?” Andi asked.

Nina thought about the fact that she was going to have to go by the pawn shop and pick up what Tanya had tried to sell, then spend several hours at Blackberry Preserves, her family’s antique store, figuring out what had been stolen, then tell her mother what had happened and possibly lecture her on the importance of actually following up on a potential employee’s references. Only she’d been lecturing her mother for as long as she could remember, and the lessons never seemed to stick. No matter how many times Bonnie promised to do better, she never did. Which left Nina picking up the pieces.

“I kind of am. Why?”

“I haven’t been to Pilates in a week,” Andi said. “It’s important I keep exercising. Would you go with me? It’s more fun when you’re along.”

“I can’t tonight, but Monday’s good.”

Andi smiled. “Thanks, Nina. You’re the best.”

“Give me a plaque and I’ll believe it.”

“I’ll order one today.”



About the author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived. 


Connect with the author: 

Website      |     Facebook      |    Google+     |     Twitter 





Giveaway:

The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to offer one lucky reader a paperback copy of Evening Stars by Susan Mallery, courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA. This giveaway is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014.


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Showcase Post: HOUSE OF GLASS by Sophie Littlefield

House of Glass by Sophie Littlefield
ISBN:  9780778314783 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781460327067 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00FNJVSYU  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 25, 2014
Publisher:  Harlequin Mira


Jen Glass has worked hard to achieve the ideal life: a successful career, a beautiful home in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, a seemingly perfect family. But inside the Glass house, everything is spinning out of Jen’s control. Her marriage to her husband, Ted, is on the brink of collapse; her fifteen-year-old daughter grows more distant each day; and her five-year-old son barely speaks a word. Jen is on the verge of breaking, but nothing could have prepared her for what is to come…

On an evening that was supposed to be like any other, two men force their way into the Glasses’ home, but what begins as a common robbery takes an even more terrifying turn. Held hostage in the basement for more than forty-eight hours, Jen and Ted must put aside their differences if they have any hope of survival. They will stop at nothing to keep their family safe — even if it means risking their own lives.

A taut and emotional tale of a family brought together by extraordinary forces, House of Glass is a harrowing exploration of both the lengths a mother will go to protect her children, and the power of tragedy to teach us what truly matters.




Read an Excerpt:

Chapter Six

“Oh, God,” Livvy said, a split second after they heard the lock at the top of the stairs. She was standing apart from her parents, her arms hugging her body. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes. “It smells so bad down here!”

   Ted reached for Livvy, and she fell against him. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close, and she sobbed against his chest. Jen picked Teddy up and rocked him gently, whispering that he shouldn’t worry about Livvy, that his sister would be just fine.

   After a few moments, Livvy’s sobs subsided and she pulled away from Ted. She went to stand near the shelf where all her trophies were lined up — Mini Marlins swim, eight years of soccer, a few for softball, one from the American Legion speech contest back in middle school. Jen could see her shoulders trembling.

   “Honey, it’s going to be okay,” Jen said, handing Teddy to her husband approaching Livvy cautiously. She had to keep her calm, had to make her believe she and Ted had things under control. “Once they get what they want, they’ll go.”

   “But what do they even want?”

   Jen put her hand on Livvy’s shoulder and gently turned her so she could look into her eyes. “Anything they can sell, I would guess. There’s the silver, my jewelry, the computers–any number of things. They’ll take it and they’ll go.”

   She could see Livvy trying, wanting to believe her. She tried to make herself believe it, so her face would convince Livvy.

   “I need to talk to Daddy,” she said, as calmly as she could. “Can you play with Teddy and keep him busy for a few minutes?”

   Livvy nodded. She looked a little better, some of the panic gone from her eyes.

   “His old toys are in here,” Jen said, getting a cardboard box down off the shelf. “I haven’t had a chance to get them over to St. Vincent De Paul’s yet. Go ahead and get them out. Whatever he wants.”

   Livvy talked softly to her brother, kneeling down on the cold concrete floor next to him and peeling the tape off the box. Jenn and Ted went to the box. Jen and Ted went to the far side of the basement where the old living room furniture was stored, the pieces that Ted kept meaning to put on Craigslist. Ted lifted the old lamp shades off the couch and brushed off the cushions. When they sat down, he took her hands in his.




Meet the author:

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri, the middle child of a professor and an artist. She has been writing stories since childhood. After taking a hiatus to raise her children, she sold her first book in 2008, and has since authored over a dozen novels in several genres. Sophie’s novels have won Anthony and RT Book Awards and has been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. In addition women’s fiction, she writes the post-apocalyptic Aftertime series, the Stella Hardesty and Joe Bashir crime series, and thrillers for young adults. She is past president of the San Francisco Romance Writers of America chapter. Sophie makes her home in northern California.

Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter


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