Thursday, March 14, 2019

Stone Cold Heart by Laura Griffin

Title: Stone Cold Heart
Series: Tracers #13
Author: Laura Griffin 
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 26, 2019

When local rock climbers stumble upon abandoned human bones in a remote Texas gorge, Sara Lockhart is the first to get the call. She has a reputation as one of the nation’s top forensic anthropologists, and police detective Nolan Hess knows she is just the expert he needs to help unravel this case. Although evidence is scarce, Nolan suspects the bones belong to a teenage climber who vanished last summer.

But as Sara unearths strange clues, she finds chilling similarities to a case from her past—a case that now threatens to rock Nolan’s community. While Sara digs deep for answers, the stakes rise higher as another young woman disappears without a trace. Investigators work against the clock as Sara races to discover the truth, even if her harrowing search brings her face to face with a stone-cold killer. 

Something weird happened to me while I was reading Stone Cold Heart. I was more interested in the suspense and the unsub than in the romance. As a romantic at heart, this was really shocking to me. No doubt only Laura Griffin can distract me from a HEA!

Stone Cold Heart is the 13th book in the Tracers series. Each book has a new couple investigating a case. 

Newcomer Sara Lockhart is a forensic anthropologist. She's at a wedding when she's called by detective Nolan Hess to assist on an investigation. Human bones have been found at a National Park. Sara has recently relocated to Texas after spending some time in Guatemala. She accepted a job at the Delphi Crime Center. Sara is confident in her performance. She's a hard worker and prefers to stay away from any romantic notions. Her last relationship ended with her breaking up her own engagement.

Nolan Hess feels a responsibility to his town. A girl disappeared almost a year ago and her family is still looking for answers. Nolan wants nothing more than to bring the family some closure. He would love to capture the person responsible for her disappearance and put them behind bars for a long time. When human bones are found at the park, he thinks they could be the remains of the missing girl but Sara has her doubts. Then, a new young woman disappears in a city close by.

Stone Cold Heart had the perfect components of a romantic suspense. Laura Griffin is able to create the right environment for the crimes. In this case, the parks, the rock climbing and the caves were an excellent addition to the mystery. The idea of a serial killer dumping bodies so close to other people enjoying the outdoors was scary. I was biting my nails trying to figure out who was the killer. I knew it had to be close to them but I wasn't sure who it was until the end. 

Stone Cold Heart is a great complement to the Tracers series. I hope we see many more stories to come. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Pocket Star via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Title: Little Darlings 
Author: Melanie Golding
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: April 30, 2019

“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Little Darlings is a creepy, engaging, hair-raising tale, one which I was happy to review. The addition of the dark fairy folklore regarding twins made this novel so much more sinister.

A new mother's worst nightmare is the premise of Little Darlings.

Lauren Tranter is the new mother of twin boys, Morgan and Riley. She's overwhelmed, experiencing postpartum depression and if that wasn't enough, one of the nights while she's still at the hospital, a young woman with twins wants to exchange/take her babies. Lauren runs away and hides in the bathroom and calls the cops. Of course, no one can find the woman and her babies. They all think it was Lauren hallucinating. She's tired, she was given medications during delivery so the conclusion is that she was imaging the whole event.

DS Jo Harper reviews the report the next morning and something about the event pushes her to meet Lauren and to further investigate it. Jo believes Lauren. She knows something happened to Lauren at the hospital. Sadly, her boss doesn't agree with her and using the police resources is not something he wants to agree on. Jo doesn't want to leave the case and she starts using her own free time to follow some leads.

Then the worst happens. While on an outing with the babies a month after they were born, Lauren falls asleep on a bench and when she wakes up, her babies are gone. Jo is called to help with the kidnapping. She finds the twins but when they returned them to Lauren, she shockingly screams that they're not hers!

I liked both Lauren and DS Jo Harper. It was interesting not knowing if Lauren was imagining it all or if it was real. The folklore at the beginning of every chapter really helps with the eeriness. Jo had her own reasons for investigating the case involving babies and she tried her best to help Lauren.

Little Darlings reads itself. The whole story was spooky. It had my attention from beginning to end. 

I heard this could become a movie. Perfect script for one.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley

Title: Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley
Author: Andrew Michael Hurley
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: April 30, 2019

A new novel by the author of The Loney, which was praised by Stephen King as "an amazing piece of fiction."

In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea,

The Devil he jumped from me to thee.

And only when the Devil had gone,

Did I know that he and I'd been one . . .

Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up, to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather—the Gaffer—has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time.

Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they've let the Devil in after all.

I couldn't connect with this story or the characters. I should have known better and stopped reading it. I tried multiple times to continue reading. I forced myself to finish it when I think I should have quit instead.

Why didn't it work for me?

Mostly, because nothing happens. The prose is so slow that became irritating. The book is very (VERY) descriptive but I felt a lack of substance to the story. I don't think anything important happened in the first 25% of the book. Lastly, the main character was flat to me. 

I'll proceed to give you an idea of what the book is about. 

John Pentecost is moving back to the Endlands to help his father. He brings his pregnant wife  Kat with him. His grandfather, Gaffer recently passed away. The Gaffer had many responsibilities including delineating limits. John is back to the Endlands to help gather the sheep and help them come down from the moors. This is what the residents of the Endlands called the Gathering. The day before the Gathering, they have a celebration called the Devil's Day. Legend says the devil came to the Endlands a hundred years ago and killed many people and the animals too. 

As you can see, the story is intriguing from the outside. I thought when I was reading the synopsis that pregnancy and the devil reminded me of Rosemary's Baby but it was nothing like it.

I'm sad this didn't work for me but I'm sure others might enjoy it.

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher:  Forever Romance
Release Date:  July 9, 2019 

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen--especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

I'm amazed by Abby Jimenez's ability to write a romance dealing with the main topic of infertility.

I was pulled into The Friend Zone from the very first chapter. There were some gut-wrenching moments when I couldn't stop myself from spilling tears but also so many moments where the sarcastic humor was freaking awesome.

The first time we meet the main characters Kristen Peterson and Josh Copeland is when they were involved in a fender bender. Their first interaction didn't go that great. Their second one was a little bit better.

Kristen runs her own business. Her company makes products for dogs including ladders to help small dogs climb, she makes cute little shirts too. In regards to her personal life, she's dating a marine Tyler (who's overseas), has a cute little dog (who hates the marine), doesn't have a close relationship with her mother and she's dealing with a medical condition that will end up in infertility.
The moment she meets Josh, she knows she's in trouble. He's handsome, super nice and available as her new carpenter on his days off. She has never cheated and she won't start now. Making Josh believe she has no interest in him is a priority. She will wear unattractive clothes, no makeup, and even rulers to prevent him from getting any ideas.

Josh has recently moved to California to be closer to his best friend Brandon who's getting married soon. He's joining the same firehouse as him but his new status as probie is not a fun one. He's frustrated with some of the calls they get. Some are completely and truly unnecessary. As for his personal life, his last relationship ended on a bad note. He wanted kids and his girlfriend didn't. He let her have everything they had but his credit card balance is still quite high. He needs cash fast to pay his debts and when an offer to be Kristen's new carpenter presents, he has no other choice but to take it. He discovers that he likes Kristen. He likes her sense of humor, her honesty, and her loyalty. He realizes she's not a cheater but he wants her in his life.

Kristen and Josh are both very creative characters. I love both. Kristen was funny, sarcastic and a true friend to Sloan. Yes, I got annoyed at Kristen more than once for pushing Josh away but I understood why she did it.
Josh was perfect. He had my heart. He was understanding and dedicated to Kristen and his best friend Brandon. He fell for Kristen's dog too (which is a bonus in my book).

The last third of The Friend Zone was hard to read. Plenty of sadness. I was devastated for Josh but even though the ending had some bittersweetness to it, the sweet overcame the bitter.

I was excited to see that Abby Jimenez is writing a second book with a secondary character. I'd love to see where she takes her story.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

Title: The Dark Bones
Series: Dark Lure #2
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: May 21, 2019

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.
When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.
To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.
And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

"Can you pinpoint the exact instant your life starts on a collision course with someone else’s? Can you trace back to the moment those lives did finally intersect, and from where they spiraled outward again, yet from that point they remained forever entwined, two lives locked one with another?"

Loreth Anne White is one of my favorite authors. I love all of her books. Her characters are memorable and the suspense is always outstanding!

The Dark Bones is the second book in the Dark Lure series (The Dark Lure was FANTASTIC). The main character is Rebecca North. She's a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detective who moved out of her rural hometown of Clinton, Canada as soon as she could after her boyfriend Ash Haugen broke her heart.

Rebecca's dad is a retired detective. He's an alcoholic and he lives by himself. Out of nowhere, he calls Rebecca and tells her that he believes someone is following him and he wants to see her. He has been reviewing a cold case and he wants to know why she and Ash lied to him so many years ago. Rebecca knows this has to be about Whitney Gagnon who had slept with Ash and had left town with her boyfriend Trevor Beauchamp. Rebecca tells her dad she will call him back. Next thing she knows, she gets a call. Her dad has killed himself. Rebecca can't believe it. She comes home to investigate. She believes her father has found something about the disappearance of Whitney Gagnon and Trevor Beauchamp and someone killed him for it.

"He lied
You both lied."

On her first night back home, she bumps into the last person she wants to see, Ash. All her past feelings for him resurface. She remembers how hurt she was when he cheated and when she found out he had lied to her. She also remembers he was her first love and she has never forgotten him. As the days and the investigation progresses she realizes she still feels something for him.

Besides Rebecca and Ash, two teenagers are also important. One is Olivia's daughter Tori Burton (Liv is the main character on The Dark Lure) and the other one is Ricky Simon, a kid Ash promised to take care of. Both of their lives are in danger. They know too much.

Soon, Ash becomes the main suspect and Rebecca knows she needs to figure out who's at fault or none of them are going to be safe.

The Dark Bones was gritty, dark and full of suspense. Loreth Anne White painted a perfect small town ambiance full of secrets and lies. She gave us a great resolution while still leaving an opening for another book to answer the remaining questions.

"Quiet descended with a sense of menace."

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Montlake Romance via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

Title: The Last Letter
Author: Rebecca Yarros 
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Release date: February 26, 2019


If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

“If I ever hide something from you, it’s because I’m terrified to risk losing you. That whole roller-coaster thing? I’ve never felt like this. Never had my heart leave my body and belong to someone else. I don’t know how to have a relationship, and I’m bound to screw this one up.”

I should've known better after reading the dedication at the beginning of the book that tough times were coming. Yet, I was not prepared for the heartache I felt after reading The Last Letter. My heart was broken in tiny pieces.

The Last Letter was so well written that it felt real. The emotions, the characters, the military romance were all "possible". They had a ring of truth to them.

What's The Last Letter about?

Ella lives in Telluride, Colorado. She runs a Bed and Breakfast place. She's divorced but has a pair of twins, Maisie and Colt. Her brother Ryan is overseas. She doesn't know where he's at but when she asks him if any of the guys in his team needed some mail, Ryan told her to send letters to "Chaos", one of his teammates. 

Not too long after establishing a pen pal relationship with Chaos, Ella learns that one of her children is very sick but she doesn't have time to be shocked. She needs to do whatever is necessary to help her child. Then, more devastating news is given to her.

Beckett (Chaos) didn't have a happy childhood. He joined the military and Ryan became his friend but his best friend is his special ops dog. He would do anything for her. After the death of a teammate, Beckett is ready to leave the military and go in search of Ella. When he gets there he doesn't want to tell her he's Chaos. At first, Ella is not happy with someone coming to "watch over" her but after a while, she starts trusting him and caring for him. Her children also get attached to him.

So what could go wrong? 

For Ella, lying is not forgivable and as the reader you know, Beckett has been lying to her. It won't be pretty when she learns the truth.

The Last Letter is more than a military romance. It's about loss, regret, sickness, grief, hope, and forgiveness.

Cliffhanger: No

A complimentary copy was provided by Entangled via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 Fangs

Hell's Corner by David Baldacci

Title: Hell's Corner 
Series: Camel Club #5) 
Author: David Baldacci 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: November 9, 2010

Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in #1 bestselling author David Baldacci's most stunning adventure yet.

An attack on the heart of power . . . 

In sight of the White House . . . 

At a place known as . . . 


John Carr, aka Oliver Stone-once the most skilled assassin his country ever had-stands in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, perhaps for the last time. The president has personally requested that Stone serve his country again on a high-risk, covert mission. Though he's fought for decades to leave his past career behind, Stone has no choice but to say yes.

Then Stone's mission changes drastically before it even begins. It's the night of a state dinner honoring the British prime minister. As he watches the prime minister's motorcade leave the White House that evening, a bomb is detonated in Lafayette Park, an apparent terrorist attack against both leaders. It's in the chaotic aftermath that Stone takes on a new, more urgent assignment: find those responsible for the bombing.

British MI-6 agent Mary Chapman becomes Stone's partner in the search for the unknown attackers. But their opponents are elusive, capable, and increasingly lethal; worst of all, it seems that the park bombing may just have been the opening salvo in their plan. With nowhere else to turn, Stone enlists the help of the only people he knows he can trust: the Camel Club. Yet that may be a big mistake.

In the shadowy worlds of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell's Corner truly lives up to its name. This may be Oliver Stone's and the Camel Club's last stand

“Everyone has choices. You make them and then you live with the consequences.”

I hope this is not the end of The Camel Club. I'm invested in these characters and I want to know what is next for them.

Hell's Corner begins with a bang. B.O.O.M. Literally!

A stroll through Lafayette Park for Oliver Stone will prove to be more than a headache for him. A bomb has been detonated so close to the White House in spite of all the security surrounding the place. At first, it looks like a terrorist attack targetting the visiting British Prime Minister but after a while, it seems like there is so much more to this very carefully planned attack.

Oliver Stone is pulled to help his government again. A new badge and a new partner is given to him. His new partner is Mary Chapman, an MI-6 agent. Yet, like always with Oliver Stone having his past as John Carr, so many other agencies are not happy with him. Oliver will need to watch his back and when he can trust his own government, he will enlist the help of his friends from the Camel Club to help him investigate the terrorist attack before another one happens.

Hell's Corner was full of action, intrigue and killer suspense. One action, trigger multiple responses and it seemed like Oliver and Mary were always one step behind. They could trust no one but they both wanted the same thing: The truth. 

There were two great twists which I loved. The second twist was perfect.

I do hope I get one more book so I can get some answers to the open-ended ones. If not Bon Voyage to Oliver, Annabelle, Mary, Harry, Reuben, Caleb, and Alex.  

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs