Review – Becker’s Circle by Addison Bray

BeckerCircle

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing (March 14, 2018)

ASIN: B07B3HT15Y                           Rating: 4*

Gillian’s  boyfriend believed she was too gutless and dependent upon him to leave. WRONG! Gillian graduated Harvard early and left his hot temper and everyone else behind for Dallas quite determined to make it on my own.   She found  a job in an accounting firm as she worked towards her CPA and then landed a second job bartending at the neighborhood pub.  Tips were good but it’s smack in the middle of drug central where almost every jerk in the neighborhood hits on her.

Soon after starting her bartending gig, the neighborhood’s very popular drug dealer fell to his death a few feet from the table Gillian was serving. The cops say suicide, but the hot guitar player in  the band and she suspect foul play.   They started their mini investigation and as they discover more and more they’re drawn closer to each other. Before long they discovered, they knew who the murderer is!

*** Well talk about some colorful characters!  BECKER’S CIRCLE had them all and then some!  From the ‘witchy’ boss from hell at Gillian’s ‘day’ job at the accounting firm, to the girls who frequented the bar scene identified by their drink of choice names.

One has to commend Gillian by taking control of her life and setting off for a new life away from a toxic boyfriend who wanted complete control over her.   Yes, she made a couple of mistakes before she hooked up with her guitar wheeling buddy but overall I think she did well; juggling full time and part time  jobs while studying for her CPA exam.  The clues she came across to discover who the murderer was  were actually pretty minute, but in the end she persevered, and came out the heroine of Becker Circle.

Frankly this was a pretty sweet and suspenseful story with lots of twists and turns.  At the end  I loved the career choice!

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

TwoGirlsDown

Kindle Edition, 322 pages

Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by Doubleday

ASIN    B071HCW3V8

When there are no leads on missing persons, the first person you should call is Alice Vega, a PI who seems to do the impossible.  Like a dog with a bone, Vega is tenacious in digging for the seemingly smallest clue and finding missing children.

After two young sisters had disappeared from a strip mall parking lot in a small town, the devastated mother fearing that the police were doing nothing, hires an enigmatic bounty hunter.  The police in this small town are stretched to the limit fighting a drug epidemic so they aren’t about to give Vega any leads (not that they had any).  Needing some tie-in with the police, Vega hires a disgraced ex-cop, Max Caplan who only wants to put the scandal of his past behind him. But Vega needs the help and bulldogs him into helping her.

***  Wow, with very little to go on and practically no clues whatsoever, Vega proves she is the best!  She was like a bloodhound to untangle what few clues she had to go on. One thing for sure is that she was a very private individual and as she and Max followed all the threads that sprung up now and then I was hoping that these two lonely souls would get something personal going on.  One thing for sure they did form a wonderful working relationship!

The story was brisk and it was a fast read, with lots of twists and turns which made the finale a real edge-of -the-seat- thrill ride.   Whether we see Max show up in future Vega books is something I hope the author considers.  I really like Vega even though you never get to ‘know’ her.  Determined and someone you want in your corner if the need ever arose!     Great story!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: When Time is A River by Susan Clayton-Goldener

WhenTimIsaRiver

Published September 6th 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing

ASIN:  B0741DSKCK Rating:  5*

Because I’ve read the National Writers Award Winner Book  A BEND IN THE WILLOW by Susan Clayton-Goldener I was more than happy to be able to read and review her newest book WHEN TIME IS A RIVER.    Now that I have read both, I know that with this author, who writes with heart and emotion and a very fresh and eloquent voice, she is an author who must be placed on an auto-buy list.

The dynamics of the family that had Emily their 3 year old child kidnapped from a park, while her much older step-sister Brandy was in charge of  watching her certainly played a huge part in the intense emotional play of the story.   Yes, Brandy was not on the best of terms with her new step-mother who was once her professor father’s student and only 4-5 years older than Brandy, but that was never a factor in what Brandy felt for her baby sister.  Brandy was probably more of a mother to Emily than Christine (the mother) was.

Unbeknownst to Brandy, was that she and Emily had been stalked for weeks by someone who wanted Emily – the perfect child.   Brandy was quite beautiful and talented but for a noticeable scar on her cheek which she’d received when she fell out of her stroller at age 3 and was caught in the escalator at a department store.    The trauma was intense for Brandy because all her life she wanted to be an actress and singer.  But when Emily disappeared from her stroller while Brandy was in a restroom keeping an eye on the stroller wheels and talking to Emily, the stalker came in and took Emily right out of the stroller without Brandy ever knowing she was gone.    This incident trounced any kind of trauma Brandy had ever had over her scars.  Enter Detective Radhauser who is brought in on the case, and insists Brandy stay out of the investigation – however, Brandy’s tortured soul and guilt wouldn’t allow her to just sit around.

With the story set, be aware that the pages will fly by as Brandy chases down every clue she gives to Radhauser.   Radhauser insists Brandy stay safe and away from the investigation but Brandy wouldn’t listen and when she discovers more than she ever wanted to know, she must race before it was too late to save Emily.

Bottom line:   Top notch story and deserving of another award!  Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

AreYouSleeping

Hardcover, 336 pages                        Published August 1st 2017 by Gallery Books

ISBN13: 9781501157660                      Rating: 4-1/2*

Josie Buhrman has for the last ten years hidden and trying to escape the dysfunctional and tragic family she grew up in.  After her father’s death and her mother’s abandonment to run away and join a cult leaving her and her twin sister Lanie to live with an Aunt, life had never been the same.   Lanie, her other half did a one-eighty and spiraled out of control getting int all sorts of trouble, but what truly blew the closeness the twins once had was a betrayal Josie simply could not forgive.

Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York with the love of her life, best friend and live in partner Caleb.  It’s taken a long time for Josie to develop the kind of close attachment she has with Caleb, but when a phone call from her cousin comes thru begging Josie to come home for her long lost mother’s funeral, her first though was that her carefully constructed life of lies was finally going to have to be explained.

An investigative reporter Poppy Parnell was running a ‘True Crime’ episode of the murder and supposedly false imprisonment of the person who was charged with her fathers murder.  The podcast had become a hit and in an effort to keep Caleb from learn the truth she again lied and left for the mid-west in order to attend the funeral of the mother who abandoned her and her sister.

***  This was a really great read with characters i found to be pretty much fleshed out and eventually discovering all the secrets both twins had buried deep from the tragic night of their father’s murder.  I’m sure a psychiatrist would delight in reading this tome for great examples of how one buries trauma from their mind.

The story was fast paced and very interesting with a plethora of high emotions, blame, betrayals and mental instability.   Bottom line is that this was a very enjoyable read .

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

MarriagePact

Kindle Edition, 432 pages                                               Publication: July 25th 2017 by Bantam

ASIN:  B01M4PWDWF Rating:  4-1/2*

Okay, THE MARRIAGE PACT is definitely a WOW book – total psychological suspense and then some!  It asks the question, “How far would you go to protect your marriage?”

In this page-turner you have two newlyweds, a picture-perfect couple today, after growing out of some very definitive free-living younger days.  Alice was once an up-and-coming singer with a band and had an album or two.  Now she is a successful lawyer whose future seems quite bright.  Jake is a partner in an up-and coming Psychology practice.  For both the future looks enormously bright.

As a marriage gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients Alice and Jake are invited to join an exclusive  and secret mysterious group known as the Pact.  Seemed harmless enough with it seemed one goal – to keep their marriage, fresh, intact, and loving forever.   Who wouldn’t want that?  The rule book also contained other things as well with some of the rules not necessarily alarming at the time but as their lives and “Friends” they were introduced to at glamorous parties Jake and Alice began to feel as if they had made a huge mistake.

The tension was quite palpable and Jake and Alice started to think of ways out, particularly after Jake was warned by a former colleague who told him disturbing truths of how the Pact dealt with those who wanted ‘out’.

Bottom line:   A really great read with fast pacing.  Definitely highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

SomeKindHero

NET GALLEY July 11, 2017                             ISBN13: 9780345543820

Published: Ballantine Books                      Series   Troubleshooters #17

Rating:  5*

Navy men are pretty cool, but in spite of being highly intelligent, strong, determined and even bit stubborn, I am beginning to think that good looks are also a key to becoming a top Navy Seal.  Peter Green is a very tough cookie – he has to be to in order to accept only the top of the crop for entrance into the Seal program.  However, after his ex-wife’s death and his somewhat estranged daughter, Maddie came to live with him, Peter was at his wit’s end!   He thought he was doing everything right but tough rules and standards he taught his recruits were not something that his daughter was ready to accept.  In fact – Maddie had just disappeared and Peter had no idea where to turn.

Romance writer and author Shayla Whitman could solve all sorts of problems with her writing and the assistance of her imaginary sidekick Harry.  Never did she ever expect to be drawn into the drama her new hottie neighbor was having since his daughter had come to live with him.  However, she is a mother and having the experience of raising two sons, she was more than willing to steer Peter in the right direction to begin looking for clues and obtaining information the could help him in his search.

*** Well now here is the gist of the story.   Rather than think this is just a simple runaway kid theme – well it is – but it’s not.  Being new in town, Maddie was befriended by a not so good ‘friend’.  So called ‘friend’ happened to be dealing drugs unbeknownst to Maddie then left town leaving Maddie holding the bag – only the bag was empty and the bad guys believed Maddie had absconded with their ‘stuff’ so Maddie, aged 15, is on the run with her boyfriend who happens to be 21 and Peter finding this out is ready to roast the boyfriend alive.

However, Shayla, his neighbor has been sticking to him and advising him about how teenaged daughters react to somewhat overbearing fathers (who have never been part of their daughters life until now).  The dialogs between Peter and Shayla (including comments from Harry which sometimes Shayla forgets that Harry is imaginary and answers) are downright hilarious.   And naturally what would this very hot Navy Seal want with an older woman like her – even if she still looked pretty damn hot with a very active libido that could match his.

Bottom Line:  SOME KIND OF HERO was a terrific read, suspensefull, hard to put down, amusing, and sensual.  Obviously it is definitely a recommended read!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Carnal Innocence

Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte Length: 17 hrs and 55 mins

Unabridged Audiobook Release Date:04-06-12

Publisher: Recorded Books Rating: 5*

In CARNAL INNOCENCE author Nora Roberts has created a mesmerizing tale of madness, murder, and love in a small southern town of the bayou.  Put into play is Caroline Waverly, a beautiful world renowned concert violinist who is still fragile from both a public breakup and private breakdown after witnessing her lover with another.  Caroline, has left the concert circuit escaping to her late grandmother’s home in Innocence, Mississippi.   However instead of the peace and tranquility she expected, she found a town reeling from two vicious and heinous murders. And, if that weren’t enough Caroline discovers a third victim on her property.

Enter Caroline’s devastatingly handsome bad-boy neighbor – Tucker Longstreet.  Big, beautiful with a devilish grin and the sexiest southern drawl ever.  But for some reason, Tucker makes Caroline feel safe even though his reputation for breaking hearts has put him at the top of the suspect list, seeing as how he was connected to each of the murdered women.

***  Lordy, lordy, but I have listened to Tom Stechschulte before and I have to say that NO ONE does sexy Southern drawls like Mr. Stechschulte!  He is a master of making a written hero pop to life as one very SEXY heart throb – just by hearing that rich southern interpretation.   Wow!  And let me also say that the sensuality both actual and implied was steaming all the way through to the very end!

Now mix that with exquisite storytelling by Nora Roberts and you have a perfect combination that will force you to keep listening way into the middle of the night and then turning it back on as soon as you wake up!  Be it children, heroes or heroines, pets, even nasty villains  – Ms. Roberts writes the books that grab you and simply won’t let you go.    Loved every minute of this audiobook, the outstanding performance of Mr. Stechschulte and the entire cast of characters who made this ‘very hard to put down’  and immensely satisfying book!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

Burntown

Print Length: 304 pages Publisher: Doubleday (April 25, 2017)

Sold by: Random House LLC ASIN: B01LZOU9XD

Rating: 4-1/2*

In the small Vermont town of Ashford, one might think it like any other typical sleepy New England town, but there were were people who lived in the shadows amongst the abandoned mills and factories that referred to Ashford as “Burntown”.

Eva Sandeski, known as “Necco” on the street had been a part of this underworld for years from the day the ‘great flood’ had come leaving her and her mother Lily homeless.  Her father Miles had been a professor but more than that he was an inventor of fantastic machines, one of which was purported to have been built off of stolen plans that once belonged to Thomas Edison.  Somewhere in the back of Eva’s mind it was the machine that had gotten Miles murdered.

Necco had been so young and told of this story so many times by her mom that she believed it and when Lily had mysteriously died, and then Necco’s boyfriend murdered, she’s convinced her mother was telling the truth.   One thing Necco did remember was a tattoo on the hand of the man whom she knew was bad ahdn probably was the one who had killed her family – she called him ‘snake eyes’ .  Now Necco had to rely on the group of women her mother had come to who lived off the grid and were known as ‘fireeaters’ to help protect her and guide her to expose the killer.

***  I must say that this was a fully robust novel with lots of twists and turns and plenty of red herrings town into the mix.   And of course, it goes without saying that the characters were extremely colorful and totally unique.   However, as misfits they were they blended well into the story.   From Pru, the cafeteria lady leading a secret life, to Theo who is trying to recoup the money she lost that belongs to a dangerous drug trafficker.

The action initially started slow but as I got deeper into the story, things started to both make sense and even get a little weird, but also quite interesting!   Where I once thought Necco was flying off  the deep end bits and pieces started to come together where it all made sense.   There was a VERY bad man who had a pair of dice tattoo that she named  “Snake Eyes”,   but that was not the only bad guy that was out to silence Necco and what might have been left of her family.

Bottom line:   Hang in through the slow opening.  You will find BURNTOWN just might turn your initial thoughts into a high five for this book!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

GirlWhoWasTaken

Hardcover, 320 pages ISBN13: 9781496701008

Publication: April 25th 2017 Kensington Publishing Corporation

Rating:  5*

Set in the small town of Emerson Bay, Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald were both high school seniors who disappeared launching a massive investigation and numerous search parties.   Regrettably, there were absolutely no clues left behind.  However, after a couple of weeks, Megan re-emerged after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later Megan’s book with an account of her ordeal has been published and now Megan is not only a local hero but now a national celebrity.  Megan’s story is a striking example of survival but it’s missing one thing – Nicole is still missing.   Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, is expecting that one day, Nicole’s body will show up on her table.  Instead, another body shows up and clues lead Livia on a hunt where the young man appeared to be connected to her sister.

Megan knows more than she revealed in her book which was co-written with the help of her psychiatrist.  And while flashes of memory begin to emerge for Megan the chilling details of who and what  actually happened are beginning to show Megan the true terror of her captivity.

***   Wow, this one kept me on the edge of my seat and was very difficult to put down! Luckily I started THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN early in the morning and was finished before I went to bed that night!  Fabulous writing and lots of twists that kept me on my toes which gave me the surprise of discovering who the REAL villain was.

I loved the details Charlie Donlea took the time to describe allowing the reader to see just what the motivating factors were for the actions of the major players in the story.   Also enjoyed the research employed that described some of the tactics and tools used for pathologists to determine how, when and where death occurred.

Bottom line: THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN was a terrific read for those who enjoy a high suspense, fast pacing and lots of red herrings tossed in to keep one guessing.   Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau