Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Title: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox 
Publisher: Harlequin and Graydon House
Release date:  October 2, 2018

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821 

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall. The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

This was the perfect book to get me into the Halloween spirit!

Lydia Montrose and her family are moving from Boston to New Oldbury. They have been pretty much run out of the city after certain rumors spread surrounding the oldest sister, Catherine. 

Lydia is the middle sister. She loves to read, likes to garden and loves her little sister, Emeline. Lydia has taken over Emeline's schooling and also her discipline. Lydia's mother is not the same since they left Boston and Lydia likes to help where she can. Their brother Charles is not with them. He's in London. There's a mystery surrounding his absence.

“Charlie did a bad thing”

Lydia's father, Samuel Montrose has started a new mill's business. The business is thriving but life at Willow Hall is strange. From the noises Lydia hears at night to the ghost-like forms she observes.

"There are stories around here that the place is haunted. All manners of ghosties and goblins." 

Samuel's partner, John Barrett is a young man who used to own Willow Hall. Lydia fancies him but she has to compete for his affections with Catherine, who everyone believes to be prettier than Lydia. Lydia doesn't think she can win his affections but when he gives her his attention, she is full of hope. 

Then tragedy strikes the family.


The Witch of Willow Hall had a good story filled with gothic components, interesting characters, enough mystery and, a good romance to make it a winner.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about The Witch of Willow Hall was the way the author gave us small tidbits of what had happened back in Boston. It kept my interest piqued. It was a slow burn but with a purpose. 

Lydia was a unique character. She was dealing with learning something about herself that was changing her life. The best part about Lydia was that she was a bookie!

Catherine was a great villain. She was a character you love to hate. She enjoyed belittling Lydia. Cyrus and August Pierce were also unlikable characters but I still think Catherine is the worst.

Emeline was a sweet girl. I love how Snip, her dog was always with her.

John Barrett had an air of mystery that enticed me to learn more about him. He could also be quite swoony.

“I expect that the next time I see you it will be in the library, or the parlor, or the garden—anywhere else but your room—and that you will have a new book recommendation for me. Hopefully something with a happy ending this time.”

Thank you, Harlequin and Graydon House for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Collectors by David Baldacci

Title: The Collectors  
Series: Camel Club #2
Author: David Baldacci 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

In Washington, D.C, where power is everything and too few have too much of it, four highly eccentric men with mysterious pasts call themselves the Camel Club. Their mission: find out what's really going on behind the closed doors of America's leaders.

The assassination of the U.S. Speaker of the House has shaken the nation. And the outrageous iconoclasts of the Camel Club have found a chilling connection with another death: the demise of the director of the Library of Congress's rare books room, whose body has been found in a locked vault where seemingly nothing could have harmed him. 

A man who calls himself Oliver Stone is the groups unofficial leader. Staying one step ahead of his violent past and headquartered in a caretaker's cottage in Mt. Zion Cemetery, Stone, drawing on his vast experience and acute deductive powers, discovers that someone is selling America to its enemies one classified secret at a time. When Annabelle Conroy, the greatest con artist of her generation, struts onto the scene in high-heeled boots, the Camel Club gets a sexy new edge. And they'll need it, because the two murders are hurtling them into a world of high-stakes espionage that threatens to bring America to its knees.

From an ingenious con in Atlantic City tho the possible forgery of one of the rarest and most valuable books in America history, to a showdown of epic proportions in the very heart of the capitol, David Baldacci weaves a brilliant, white-knuckle tale of suspense in which every collector is searching for one missing prize: the one to die for... 

The whole first half of The Collectors, I was thinking how are these two storylines going to connect? I was loving both of them on their own but wasn't sure where David Baldacci was going with it. When it finally happened I was like, wow I didn't see that coming. 

The book begins with the murder of the Speaker of the House and then Caleb Shaw's boss, Jonathan DeHaven is also found dead in the Library of Congress's Rare Books room. When Caleb sees his boss's body, Caleb passes out. His three friends, Oliver Stone, Ruben Rhodes, and Milton Farb will go in search of the connection between these two very different set of deaths. 

While the Camel Club is going in one direction, another plot emerges. We're introduced to sexy, smart, independent con artist, Annabelle Conroy who is recruiting a group of men for a con involving an Atlantic City casino owner by the name of Jerry Bagget. Jerry is well known for his lack of compassion and if it is up to him, anyone messing with his casino will pay with their own lives.

When the two stories collided,  I couldn't put the book down. Annabelle was a fantastic asset to the story- and to the Camel Club. I loved her. She created mystery, humor, intrigue, and suspense in every page she appeared. I wasn't a fan of the first book but with the addition of Annabelle and I'm all in. Good job Mr. Baldacci for launching this unforgettable character!

Even though one of the plot lines closes by the end of The Collectors, another one is left wide open, making it impossible for me not to grab the next one in this series.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Play Dirty by Sandra Brown

Title: Play Dirty 
Author: Sandra Brown
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. 

Foster Speakman and his wife Laura lived a charmed life before fate denied them the one thing they wanted most -- a child. Fresh out of prison and out of prospects, Griff agrees to do a job for the Speakmans that demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion when an unsolved murder comes back to haunt him. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.

It's always a thrill when I embark into another Sandra Brown novel. She writes compelling characters, thoughtful plotlines and has plenty of good twists to keep this suspense reader happy.

Griff Burkett is fresh out of prison when he's asked to meet Foster Speakman and his wife Laura. Griff went to prison for five years after being found guilty for taking payment by his bookies in exchange for forfeiting a game while he was the Dallas Cowboy's quarterback. Everyone in Texas despises him for doing it and despite five years gone by, everyone still remembers what he did. 

As Enemy #1 and without any of his football money (which he lost before going to prison) it's hard to find a new job offer. When Speakman offers him money in exchange for performing a special service, first he thinks Foster is crazy but by the end of the night, he's agreeing to do what they want from him. 

Laura Speakman loves her husband. She will do anything he asks of her. She will even do the crazy thing he's requesting from her. At first, she doesn't trust or likes Griff but when she gets to know him, she's conflicted. She realizes she has developed feelings for him. She tries to severe her connection with him but then a murder brings them closer together.

I had fun reading/listening to Play Dirty. It had plenty of suspense, an evil character to hate and two good twists. 

As for the characters, I liked how Griff was not cookie-cutter perfect. He was down on his luck and he had to start over from scratch. I loved that Laura was a cut-throat businesswoman. She worked as hard as her husband or maybe even more. I'm not sure how she could have fallen for Foster who was manipulative and deceitful. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Claiming the Enemy: Dustin by Jamie Begley

Title: Claiming the Enemy: Dustin
Series: Porter Brothers Trilogy
Author: Jamie Begley
Publisher: Young Ink Press 
Release date: September 30, 2018  

The Porter brothers were raised to live and die by Three Rules.

One, a Porter always keeps what’s his.

Two, a Porter stands his ground.
Three …
Dustin never had to search for his true love. They used to play and get in trouble together, shared a playpen, and their mothers used to be best friends. But that was before their fathers made them enemies and changed the course of their lives. Now the Porters stayed on their side of the mountain while the Hayes stayed on theirs.
Believing it was easier to coexist as frenemies with Jessie Hayes rather than changing the Porter stubborn ways, Dustin was content with booty calls, raising his son, and growing weed as a side business … until he heard her screams. Now he was going to show a murderer just how much they had underestimated this Porter brother. And he was going to have to break his father’s last rule: Leave no enemy standing … to claim the enemy that held his heart.

Excellent addition to the Porter trilogy!

I laughed and I cried reading it. Yet, again another book that made me cry while on a plane. My poor husband kept on asking me if I was alright. Thankfully, I was in the window seat, so no one else was privy to my madness. 

Dustin is the youngest Porter brother. He has a son that he loves and a respectable business despite the reputation his family inherited. His dad was tough on him and his only friend growing up was Jessie Hayes. Jessie's dad and Dustin's dad hated each other and after a nasty event, Dustin broke off his relationship with Jessie for good.

Dustin, like his siblings, has something to hide. Something that only family and I guess the Last Riders know about him. Or maybe I should say that he has three secrets but I won't tell you those. What I can tell you, is that Dustin takes charge when Jessie goes missing after being brutally attacked and left for dead. I can tell you that he's extremely patient and careful with her and when the time comes, he will tell her exactly what he wants from her.

Jessie has always loved Dustin. She has followed his life, his happy and sad moments from afar and I felt sorry for her for not moving forward. I'm not sure I like the idea that a woman is pinning her life on a man and will wait forever for him despite not knowing if he cares for her. The only time I saw Jessie shine was at work or when she was firm with her brothers. I think those situations saved her from being a doormat. 

One of the reasons why I continue reading the work of Jamie Begley is because of the huge character pool she has created. There are so many characters that I love and that I enjoy seeing them reappear even if it is a tiny cameo. 

The one character who shined in this book was Greer. He has become one of my favorite characters in the series. I hope to see more of him in the Last Riders.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Consumed by J.R. Ward

Title: Consumed 
Series: Firefighters #1
Author: J.R. Ward 
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release date: October 2, 2018

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Anne Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family’s scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed...

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

I have a huge love for Firefighters in books and in real life. They are going into the fire when everyone else is leaving it. It might also have to do with my great love for Backdraft. To this day, it is still my favorite movie involving firefighters. I still remember like yesterday Kurt Russell saying "You go, we go". Great movie line!

Ok, getting back to Consumed, the main character is Anne Ashburn. She's a firefighter of the 499 Fire Department Station. She's a hard worker, determined woman. She also can be tremendously stubborn and self-destructive at times. She has fallen for Danny McGuire, another firefighter who has a thing for the ladies. Once after his best friend's wedding, they let their desire for each other consumed them (see what I did there?) but after that night together they avoided talking about it.

Next thing you know, the fire alarm is triggered and off they go to stop a new fire. The events following this call leaves them both with permanent visible and nonvisible scars.  Anne asked for something that was quite courageous but left Danny feeling guilty. Over the last ten months, he has been consumed by it. He's in a path to self-destruction and looking for an early grave if you ask me. 

Anne's dream of a career as a firefighter is gone after the fire but ten months later, she's ready for a new beginning as an arson investigator and the new owner of a rescue dog. She has avoided Danny and anyone from the same fire department station as an act of self-preservation but when her investigation leads her to danger and she reconnects with Danny, she's not sure how to proceed.

As a lover of anything the Ward writes, I knew I had to give this series a chance. It does read like the first book in a long series. I did like Anne. She passed her denial phase pretty fast and was able to go into acceptance mode. 

I wasn't crazy about how Danny behave during his time apart from Anne. If he wanted her, there was no reason to sleep around. Be a man and go get her. I did warm up to him by the last third of the book but still not cool dude!

The novel is left with plenty of material for many more books to come. Anne's brother should be next. 

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

Thank you Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Title: The Dream Daughter 
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release date:  October 2, 2018

From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel. 

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. 

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby's heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline's part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother's quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

The Dream Daughter is full of hard choices, good intentions, and unbelievable outcomes.

The story begins with Caroline Grant in the 1960's. She’s a physical therapist working in a hospital when she’s assigned a new patient to her schedule. The patient, Hunter Poole has not connected with anybody and they think he has sustained his injuries when he tried to commit suicide by jumping from a three-story building. When he sees her, he immediately points at her and tells her that he wants her as his physical therapist and he will do whatever she wants him to do.

Caroline will never know how this meeting will impact her life in the future.

A few years later, Carly is now Caroline Sears and she has recently become a widow. Her husband Joe has died in Vietnam and she has recently discovered that she’s pregnant. A bittersweet moment that soon becomes a nightmare when her unborn baby is diagnosed with a possible problem with the aortic valve.

In the 1970’s there is nothing to do for her baby. Her unborn daughter will probably die soon after being delivered. Caroline is devastated by the news. Then, her brother in law, Hunter, tells her he has a solution but it will require a leap of faith by Carly. At first, Caroline is skeptical, angry and worried that he's going crazy but when he proves he can do it, she knows she has to take the chance at a miracle.

The Dream Daughter shows a mother who's willing to sacrifice anything for the life of her child. I knew Diana Chamberlain was not going to disappoint me with her storytelling. I liked all her main characters especially Caroline and Hunter. Caroline was determined to help her unborn baby and do whatever was necessary to give her a chance at a normal life.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Thank you St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Title: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?


Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren was everything this romance reader needed (and was desperate for) in a book.  

There are so MANY things I loved about the story and about the characters. It has become apparent to me that I tend to love quirky and special female characters. Hazel was amazing! She was funny and very unique, a breath of fresh air. In a genre where there are so many other romance novels, she excelled, that's for sure.

What's the novel about?

Our heroine Hazel Camille Bradford lacks a filter and she behaves in a different way than your usual heroine. She says things without thinking first. She rambles when she should remain quiet. She puts herself in embarrassing situations but the difference is that she knows she is like this and she accepts herself this way. She doesn't want to settle for a man who doesn't like her for herself. In a way, she reminded me of Bridget Jones. 

The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary. 

Hazel met Josh when they were in college and the first time she met him she made quite an impression after vomiting all over his shoes. Over the years in college, she created a reputation for being quite crazy and she knows some men are uncomfortable with her personality thinking she's too much to handle. In college, Hazel had a crush on Josh. After all, he's "the blueprint for Perfect" but she knew a relationship with him was impossible. 

Josh was the quiet one. A good guy whom a decade later is currently dating a girl who's living in California. The long distance relationship is hard on him. He then bumps into Hazel who wants to turn him into her best friend. In a turn of events, Hazel is best friends with his sister Emily without realizing it but now that Josh is back in her life, she wants him as her best friend. Hazel thinks Josh will never want to be more than friends with her because he knows how she is, a tornado or more like a hurricane. In her mind, if you can date them then you can make them your best friend.

As friends, Hazel and Josh decide to go on double dates after Josh discovers his girlfriend is being unfaithful to him. Of course, the double dates go horribly wrong but it also makes Hazel and Josh realize that there are other feelings in play. Discovering those feelings are what makes this book so humorous and sexy.

I love this novel. It was deliciously funny, witty and one of a kind! Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating has become my favorite book by this duo.

“I know I’m like Pig-Pen in Charlie Brown, and I have chaos around me, but it’s like he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t need me to change or pretend to be someone else. He’s my person. He’s my best friend.”

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs