Tuesday, April 12, 2022

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

 

Title: One Italian Summer
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 1, 2022




When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.










After losing her mother to cancer, Katy feels devastated. Her mother was her best friend, the one with all the answers. Losing her makes Katy doubt everything in her life. She is not sure she wants to remain married to her husband, Eric. She is lost in despair and grief.

Needing a change and a place to clear her head, she decides to take the trip to Italy she and her mother, Carol had planned. The Amalfi Coast was a place quite dear to her mother. Carol had spent time there before she was married.

When she arrives in Positano she makes a connection with a young man, Adam, and then she sees her mother, alive and well and young too. Katy doesn't understand it but she doesn't want to blink and realize it was all a dream.

Carol and Katy become fast friends and Katy will do anything to continue hanging out with this carefree version of her mother. She is getting to know a part of her she never saw but for how long can this be?

I won't lie, I was a little disappointed in One Italian Summer. I felt like Katy took all but never reciprocated. She was mean and disrespectful to her husband, Eric who seem like a nice friendly guy. She was also trying to force Carol into making the decision she wanted. It was all Me, Me, Me with her.

What I did like was seeing Positano again through the author's eyes. The Amalfi Coast is one of my favorite places. A few years ago, I spent two magnificent weeks there. I had the best time with family and the best food too. I miss it and I can't wait to go back and have another cheese tour, visit a lemon farm and do a limoncello and meloncello tasting, take the boat to Capri and enjoyed quite memorable dishes and desserts.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

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

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

 

Title: The Younger Wife
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 5, 2022




THE HUSBAND
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancĂ©e, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?










The Younger Wife has 3 main characters and voices: Tully, Rachel, and Heather. 

Heather met Stephen Aston when she was hired to redesign his home. The first day she meets Stephen and his wife Pam she realizes Pam is not all there. Pam has advanced dementia and a few months later, Stephen makes the tough call to put her in a nursing home. The more time Heather spends with him the more she likes him. Without realizing it, she falls for him. Then they become an item and Stephen proposes. Just one little detail, he is still married to Pam.

As for Stephen's two daughters, Tully and Rachel both love their parents and they visit their mom at the nursing home regularly. The daughters have kept secrets from each other and their parents. Tully steals things she doesn't need and her husband made a bad investment and she is losing her home while Rachel stopped dating when she was sixteen and now binge eats under stress. Their lives become more chaotic when their father makes them meet Heather who is actually younger than them. They can't believe their dad is divorcing their mother and getting remarried!

To makes matter worse, Pam starts saying things about their father that don't make sense. Is what Pam is saying true or is it her dementia that is causing her behavior?

I want to recommend the audio version. You have to listen to it! It's so well done. The book is narrated by Barrie Kreinik, Caroline Lee, Jessica Douglas-Henry and Zoe Carides. I couldn't stop myself from doing one more chapter despite arriving at my destination. The voices of Tully, Rachel, and Heather were perfectly accomplished. I believe the way they were portrayed made me like them more. On paper, I don't think I would have liked Tully that much but with the audio, I did.

I enjoyed The Younger Wife despite the ending being a little vague. 

Would I read her next book? Heck yeah!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

 

Title: The Book of Cold Cases
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 15, 2022




A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect--a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea's surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth's mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she's not looking, and she could swear she's seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn't right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?










The Sun Down Motel was spooky and The Book of Cold Cases is right up there too.

In 1977, rich, young and beautiful, Beth Greer is thought to be The Lady Killer. Two men have been shot dead. The killings seem to be random without a clear connection. Just after the second man is shot, a woman is seen leaving the scene of the crime. Beth Greer is taken for questioning and later on, she's accused of the murders. At the end of the trial, she is acquitted and is left living alone in her mansion for the next 40 years.

In 2017, Shea Collins runs a blog called The Book of Cold Cases. True Crime is her passion. Something happened to her when she was a child and now as an adult, this is what she does at night to keep her sanity. During the day, Shea is a receptionist at a doctor's office, and here is where she sees and recognizes Beth Greer. 

After gaining some courage, Shea approaches Beth and asks if she would grant her an interview, and to her utter shock, Beth says yes on one condition, the interview has to be done at the mansion. After her first visit, Shea can tell something dark surrounds this place. She never wants to go back but can't she stay away?

Let me tell you, driving at night and listening to this book during the chilling parts was a new experience for me. It seemed like every time I got in the car, an eerie part was due.

I enjoyed both timelines. Learning more about Beth and her life made me feel very sorry for her. She got dealt a bad hand, that's for sure! 

Shea's struggles also made me care for her. Watching her overcome some of them was gratifying. I was glad she had Winston Puurchill to help her out too.

I'm a fan of Simone St. James after these two books. Count me in for her next release.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

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


The Patient's Secret by Loreth Anne White

  

Title: The Patient's Secret
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publisher: Montlake
Release Date: March 8, 2022





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

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

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

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

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

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











I'm a huge fan of Loreth Anne White. I have read all her books and I have enjoyed all of them.

Lily Bradley is married to Tom and has 2 children. She works as a therapist. She has gone this route because she truly wants to help people. Her past is the reason why she has chosen her profession. Yet, Lily has made sure that no one knows about her past although lately, she has been feeling like someone is following her, and her life as she knows it can be unraveled, and if the past comes out, it will not only destroy her work but her family too.

As Lily's life is unfolding, a woman jogger is found dead. Detective Rue Duval is called to find out if it was an accident or was it murder. Rue has been investigating the "jogger killer" and this woman fits the pattern. Everyone is a suspect and Rue won't give up until she finds out the truth although Rue is also hiding her own connection to the deceased.

I loved this one. I devoured the audio which had a great narrator (Brittany Pressley). I love all the red herrings LAW threw at us. It made me question everything. Was there a crime or not? If yes, who killed her and why?

I liked both Lily and Rue. In a way, both women were trying to keep their children safe. Hopefully, we get to see Rue in another book.


Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks , Sarah Pekkanen

 

Title: The Golden Couple
Author: Greer Hendricks , Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 8, 2022




The next electrifying novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo behind The Wife Between Us.

Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all—until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.










Well well well, I liked this one.

I think the audio was the way to go. The voices doing Avery and Marissa were fantastic! Kudos to Karissa Vacker, Marin Ireland for a great performance. 

The Golden Couple has two main characters or maybe three?

When Marissa and Matthew Bishop's marriage is in danger, Marissa seeks the help of a therapist to try to save her marriage.

Avery Chambers is a therapist. She lost her license due to the way she practices. She is now considered a consultant. When she accepts a patient, she researches them well and makes them spill all their little secrets. She promises that she can help you with only ten sessions. After that, your problems won't be a problem anymore.

Marissa decides to use Avery after a friend recommends her. In the first session, Marissa reveals the reason for the therapy: she has cheated with a guy at the gym. Obviously, Matthew loses it since he was blind-sided by the information. After the session, Avery decides to take them on as patients but they must adhere to her program or she is out.

Personally, Avery is dealing with some other stuff. She is a widow, she has a company harassing her, and she has a new dog. Yet, work is something she enjoys. She likes to find out what really makes her patients tick in order to help them in the best way. Yet, Matthew and Marissa's issues seem to be a little too much since it feels like outside forces are trying to break them apart.

As a thriller goes, I like the way it was developed. I liked both Marissa and Avery. Although, I was always more interested in Avery's chapters and any scene where her dog was present.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Field of Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #24


Title: Field of Prey 
Series: Lucas Davenport #24
Author: John Sandford







The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.

He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was . . . something smelled bad—like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day.











This one has a great build-up.

Like most of his other books in the Prey series, Sandford gives you the killer early on. So we know who had done it but Lucas has to connect all the dots in order to get to them before they kill again and by the end of Field of Prey, it is personal to Lucas.

The book begins with a couple of teenagers finding an area with a strong smell of death. The next day, the guy returns with a cop friend and they find a body. Soon where there was one, there are multiple dead women. The media finds out and the Black Hole Killer becomes the priority.

At first, Lucas is not completely involved but when another investigator is murdered, Lucas goes in 100%. In order to find the killers, he teams up with a local cop, Catrin Mattson who knows Virgil. It's a good combination.

The last part of Field of Prey has plenty of violence. It had my poor heart hammering. Time was running out for the next victim and Lucas needed to hurry up in a big way.

As always, I love the audio. Mr. Ferrone does a wonderful job at understanding and manifesting Lucas. I don't think I could listen to a book without his voice. He is Lucas to me.

I ended up liking Catrin a lot and I hope I can see her in other books. She deserves to be back.

I'm slowly catching up on this series and I already know that I will start the Virgil Flowers books next. If someone is a match for Lucas's personality, is Virgil.

Field of Prey is a winner. Between the humor, the sense of danger, and the amazing characterization, there is no way I wouldn't enjoy it.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

  


Title: The Bodyguard 
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: July 19, 2022




She’s got his back. Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka "bodyguard"), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.










The Bodyguard by Katherine Center confirms that romance novels still do it for me.

Hannah Brooks is not having a good week. The next day of her mother's funeral, her boyfriend dumps her and he cites 3 reasons. The last one is like a knife to the chest. 

"You’re a bad kisser".

For Hannah, the only way to deal with all of it is to immerse herself in her work. She is an Executive Protection Agent, a bodyguard. She begs her boss for a new assignment but the boss tells her she has to grieve and grounds her. 

After a month, she is finally about to go back to work. She’s excited to leave Texas behind and go anywhere else. The joke is on her when her boss Glenn tells her, she is staying and she is going to be the lead bodyguard for Jack Stapleton, a famous actor.

Jack and Hannah's first encounter is not a perfect one. He confused her with the cleaning lady and by the end of the interview, she has left him on the floor after he told her to prove to him she could take him. Things get more complicated when Jake doesn't want his mother, who has been diagnosed with cancer, to know his life might be in danger and he wants Hannah to fake being his girlfriend. Hannah doesn't want to do it but she is competing for a new position and she will do it to keep her job and win the post.

After days of spending time together, Hannah realizes she has developed feelings for Jack and Jack seem to be reciprocating them.  But is it for real or is Jake acting instead?

I loved both characters. They were both dealing with things from their past and carrying the guilt with them. It was nice to see how they complemented each other and helped the other one heal. Their banter was outstanding and the way their relationship develops felt real and believable. Best was the amazing epilogue which answers everything I wanted to know.

The Bodyguard proves once again why I love Katherine Center's writing so much.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.