Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Happy Ever After Playlist
Series: The Friend Zone #2
Author: Abby Jimenez 
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 14, 2020

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone comes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can't seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a "take me home" look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker's owner reaches out. He's a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan's not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can't deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There's no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

It's not a secret that The Friend Zone was one of my favorite books of 2019.  It was such a good story that I thought how can Abby Jimenez top that? This was the main reason why I had reservations about reading The Happy Ever After Playlist. I was so worried it was not going to meet or surpass my expectations.

It turns out, I didn't need to worry. I ended up loving it. The ending is now on the list of my favorite endings of all time. While I was reading it, I was a mess. I cried, I laughed. I might even have applauded (a little bit).

The Happy Ever After Playlist begins with Sloan, Kristen's friend from The Friend Zone, finding a  lost dog by the name of Tucker. During the next few days, Sloan tries to find his owner. She leaves voicemail after voicemail until she gives up and decides to keep the dog. Then, Jason, Tucker's owner who has been in Australia, returns her calls and begs her to give him his dog back. At first, Sloan is not too sure he can be trusted but Jason explains he's a singer and has been away for a while and he left his dog with someone he thought he could count on. This conversation leads to more phone calls and texts between these characters for the next few days which leads to AMAZING banter!

Between Tucker and Jason's presence, Sloan begins to awaken from her two-year grief. A grief so deep she had become a shell of the woman she used to be. As Sloan starts feeling better and maybe thinking a relationship with Jason could work, his fame explodes and in order to stay together, hard choices have to be taken or even harder ones to stay apart.

I love so much the banter Sloan and Jason had. They had chemistry out the wazoo. Both characters were likable and I was rooting for their happy ever after (playlist). Yes, there was a part I wasn't too happy about but I understand why it happened. It did lead to the resolution of the conflict which was a pure MAGICAL moment (this is probably where I started clapping).

In regards to Sloan's interaction with Kristen, it was absolutely refreshing. Two best friends who lift each other up (and not down for a change). Their antics had me in stitches. Also, getting a glimpse of Kristen and Josh's happiness was a fantastic treat for this reader.

I hope Abby Jimenez brings a third book as amazing as this one soon.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sudden Prey by John Sandford

Title: Sudden Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

It begins with a death and ends with one. For months, Lucas Davenport's men have been tracking a vicious woman bank robber named Candy, and when they finally catch up with her, she does not go quietly. In the ensuing shoot-out, she dies – and Davenport's nightmare starts. For her associates are even worse than she was, particularly her husband, a deeply violent man who swears an appropriate revenge: first he will find the names of those responsible; then he will kill those nearest and dearest to them, just the way they did Candy.

So it begins. The husband of one officer is shot and killed. The wife of another is ambushed at work. When a third attack is thwarted, the pattern becomes clear to Davenport, and with an urgency born of rage and terror, he presses the hunt, desperately trying to track down the killers before they can strike again, before they can reach out for Davenport's own loved ones. But in this effort, he may already be too late.

Sudden Prey was not as exciting to me as its predecessor. This one was missing the sense of desperation and urgency. I did like it but didn't love it.

At the beginning of the book, Lucas and his team are ready to apprehend two women, Candy and Georgie, who are bank robbers. Lucas knows which bank they are hitting next and he's more than ready to get them. What he wasn't counting on, was on them not surrendering and rather dying by an onslaught of bullets instead. 

In prison, Dick La Chaise, who was Candy's husband and Georgie's brother makes a promise to seek justice for them. An eye for an eye. After a well-planned escape, La Chaise with the help of two of his buddies, Butters and Martin, will find the cops who participated in the shootout and they will murder their loved ones as payback for Dick's loss.

I've become accustomed to Lucas's way of seeing things and doing what he thinks needs to be done. To be honest, I don't believe the shootout was his fault. He has done some very questionable things before but I didn't think this one was one of them.

I did roll my eyes in a scene between Weather and Dick. Quite unbelievable. I can go further and say that to me, she acted quite differently than in the prior books. I mean, be serious, you know people are after you, they want to kill you and you want to go to work because you think they can't get to you?

I've come to care for Lucas, Del, Sloan, Jennifer, Weather. I know I'm going to keep going until I can catch up with his latest book.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Hidden by Laura Griffin

Title: Hidden 
Series: The Texas Murder Files #1
Author: Laura Griffin 
Publisher:  Berkley Books
Release Date:  August 25, 2020

When a woman is found brutally murdered on Austin's lakeside hike-and-bike trail, investigative reporter Bailey Rhoads turns up on the scene demanding access and answers. She tries to pry information out of the lead detective, Jacob Merritt. But this case is unlike any he's ever seen, and nothing adds up.

Bailey has a hunch the victim wasn't who she claimed to be and believes this mugging-turned-murder could have been a targeted hit. When she digs deeper, the trail leads her to a high-tech fortress on the outskirts of Austin where researchers are pushing the boundaries of a cutting-edge technology that could be deadly in the wrong hands.

As a ruthless hit man's mission becomes clear, Bailey and Jacob must embark on a desperate search to locate the next target before the clock ticks down on this lethal game of hide and seek.

When I saw an email from Berkley with an early copy of Hidden, I couldn't jump fast enough to request it. Laura' Griffin is one of my favorite writers. I'm a fan for sure but I wasn't aware she was beginning a new series. Imagine my happiness at learning this fact!

The Texas Murder Files first book is Hidden. It stars a young journalist, Bailey Rhoads and a detective, Jacob Merritt. Usually, this combo doesn't mix well in real life but Laura makes it work in spades in this romantic suspense.

The story begins with a woman jogging in a park and then getting stabbed to death. The problem is that Dana Smith doesn't really exist. She has no friends, no family, and her employer, a doctor who hired her as a nanny, doesn't know anything more about her than what the cops do.

Hidden is an interesting novel with great characterization. I loved Bailey. She was smart, resourceful and stubborn- in a good way. She knew the murder had to have another angle and she was willing to dig and put herself on the line to find it. She wouldn't let go of the story and she wanted to bring justice to the dead woman. 

Jacob was the perfect complement to Bailey. He was strong, dedicated and he cared for the victims. Also, he was as stubborn as Bailey in not letting go of the case as she was. He wanted the person responsible for Dana's death behind bars.

Jacob's partner, detective  Kendra Porter was very cool too. She was essential to the investigation and when she could've been catty, she wasn't. She piqued my interest and I want to learn more about her. 

Lastly, John Colt's character. He was so mysterious about himself which only made me want to know everything about him. I hope this is not the end of John. He deserves his own story.

As a whole, I was pleased with the way Hidden developed. I'm already pumped to read her next work in this series but really any book by Laura Griffin is a winner in my book. 

Cliffhanger: No 

5/5 Fangs

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

The Slow Burn of Silence by Loreth Anne White

Title: The Slow Burn of Silence
Series: Snowy Creek #1
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: June 24, 2014

From the crossroads of small town mystery and dark suspense comes a romance that explores the bonds of family, the power of love, and the potentially explosive collateral damage of the secrets we keep... Sometimes a contract to forget can be as powerful as a promise to remember...
An ex-con, wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime, returns to a small mountain town determined to prove his innocence, reclaim the heart of the woman who helped put him behind bars, and win back the right to meet the daughter he learned about in prison. But his arrival stirs up dark secrets and re-ignites a fierce and consuming passion that just might get the woman he loves, and his child, killed.
Nine years ago Rachel Salonen and Jeb Cullen were soul mates--deeply, irrevocably in love. Until the night two young women went missing from a party in the woods. One was found raped, beaten and pregnant with no memory of what happened. The other is still missing. A small mountain community was torn apart and a young relationship shattered when nineteen-year-old Jeb was arrested for the heinous crime, and Rachel was forced to help put the man she loved behind bars. Now, nine years later, Rachel believes she's finally put the past to rest when her sister dies suddenly in a fire and she's made guardian of her adopted niece. A child, she learns, who was conceived that terrible night of violence, a child whose DNA was used to convict Jeb. And when Jeb is unexpectedly released from max security, Rachel sees that the past has only just begun... ... Because Jeb has come straight home to Snowy Creek. To prove his innocence, reclaim his life, his home. And to meet the daughter he learned about in prison. A daughter Rachel will do anything to protect. And when the town turns violently on Jeb, Rachel will once again be forced to take sides. This time she chooses with her heart. But her decision could cost everything she holds dear--including her niece's life. Because someone in town will do anything to keep the truth buried...even kill.

A suspenseful winner!

Nine Years ago, Jeb Cullen went to prison for the rape of one woman and the disappearance of another one. The survivor lost her memory of the events during the attack but she became pregnant with his child, Quinn. Jeb always claimed he was innocent. He admitted he had a consensual sexual encounter with Amy Findlay but he remembers driving Amy and her friend, Merilee Zukanov in his car to an intersection, and then the women asked him to let them out, which he was happy to do. He remembers driving away,  getting to his house and then crashing on his bed until the next day.

Jeb's girlfriend at that time, Rachel Salonen, didn't believe him. She and the testimony of four other men sealed Jeb's future. He was sent to prison. Now, Jeb has been let go on a technicality and he's back in Snowy Creek to set the record straight. He wants his daughter back and to get her, he needs to prove his innocence. He knows those four men lied but he doesn't know why. He's back to rattle some cages and get to the bottom of the events that occurred during that awful night. 

As a fan of Loreth Anne White, I might be biased but I thought The Slow Burn of Silence was just one huge success. From the very beginning to the last page, this reader couldn't get enough. There was so much suspense and you never knew who was going to attack next. In the last few chapters, it was aa delight to see all the dominoes falling. 

Of note, even though, this book says it's a part of a series, I could only find one. I wonder if she's ever going to revisit some of the characters who were left in this one. I believe she has plenty of material to go back and write about Annie Pirello.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs