Review: The Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis

The Friendship Pack 

Jill Shalvis 

Sunrise Cove Series, Book 2

ebook, 384 pages
Expected publication: June 14th 2022 by William Morrow
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Sunrise Cove with a powerful, moving story about a young woman on a quest to find the truth about her father who learns the meaning of true love along the way.

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

3.5 Stars

Jill Shalvis has an amazing talent for getting her readers to connect to her books on deep and emotional levels. The Friendship Pact is a heartwarming, healing story about friendship in love.

Tae Holms and her mother April have a very unique relationship. April being a teenage mom, in many ways they ended up raising each other. They have a solid bond as mother and daughter but also a friendship that goes beyond. They are in many ways each other’s worlds.  As Tae begins to take off in a career that she is passionate about she also has many life questions. The big one being who and what happened to her father. April is also discovering new parts of her life, finding herself as a person and not just a mother.   On the night of her first fundraiser Tae literally hops into a car and find herself face-to-face with the one person from high school that made an impact on her. Not just a fling but someone she cared about.  Riggs is an ex marine who is facing some demons and issues of his own. While there is an instant connection between the two and their past dealings may help egg that spark on Tae tries to play it hard and cool.

As Tae begins to ask questions of her past and her mothers avoidance at answering just makes her want the answers more. With a determination to accomplish this task on her own the last person she expected to help her would be that blast from the past that knows how to get under her skin, without even knowing.

Jill Shalvis broke out all the stops with this one. The Friendship Pact is a highly emotional and healing story about friendship and yes love. Love between a mother and daughter, love between friends and love between a man and a woman. All the characters in this book were healing in some way or another or helping someone heal. The personal issues of both Tae and Riggs have them keeping their barriers up but each of them seems to know a way to soften the others. Tae and Riggs do not have an easy climb but they make it well worth every step they took to find the love they didn’t No was waiting for them.

Review: Dragon Eternal by Donna Grant

Dragon Eternal 

Donna Grant 

Dragon Kings Series, Book 4 

Kindle Edition

Expected publication: June 14th 2022 by DL Grant, LLC
In the next installment of her captivating new Dragon Kings series, New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant connects an enigmatic and determined Dragon King and a courtesan sent to tempt him to his doom.

He’s a man of few words, but she fills his soul with poetry.

Quiet. Brooding. Capable. Shaw’s mission is simple: Root out Stonemore’s leader and determine what the Divine has in store for the people of Zora and the Kings. Just as he gets started, however, a breathtakingly beautiful woman finds and tempts him like no other. Nothing can stop him from engaging in the pleasures she offers. After all, pillow talk is sometimes the best way to uncover secrets.

Nia’s life has never been hers. From starving on the streets to becoming a slave to the Divine, she merely does what’s needed to survive. But when her latest assignment brings her face-to-face with a handsome man who makes her feel things she’s never experienced before, she begins to see that while she’s been living, she’s not really thriving.

As truths are revealed, and Nia’s blinders are removed, she realizes that she can no longer sit by and allow things to continue as they have been in her city. It’s time to take a stand. With Shaw by her side, they spark a war so many have tried to avoid. But the injustices being perpetrated must be stopped—no matter the cost.

4 Stars

Zora, the realm of the kings has an evil brewing for both its people and the dragons. As the kings set in motion a plan to find out what it is they are exactly dealing with.

Nia is a courtier and a slave for the Divine. Appearances are not all they seem to be. Her exterior shows a wealthy woman in control of her life she is truly nothing more than a slave to the cause. Having suffered a horrific childhood, the divine may have given her a cushy existence but her freedom is something she can only dream of. Nia has her vacation cut short with a task from the divine to deliver one of the dragon kings that is in Stonemore. 

Shaw is a man of few words, quite a bit brooding and king of the sapphires. I haven’t quite figured out if he has spent more years asleep or awake. Determine to figure out what is lurking in the shadows for the dragon kings it takes no time at all for Shaw to connect with a local who has more behind her stare than what she lets on. Soon realizing the divine already knows the kings are present and this woman was ready to hand him over for her freedom Shaw finds himself in a place that he has not been before. As the action begins Shaw wonders if he can’t save the girl and get the Divine. 

Donna Grant weaves a thrilling tale with Dragon Eternal.  Nia and Shaw have amazing chemistry. I love their moments spent together before and after one of the secrets is revealed. Their attraction was natural and they complemented each other so well. I loved that Nia swore it was magic, that she can never be attracted to a man in that manner. As a story unfolds and more secrets are revealed the two of them make an amazing team. I loved visiting with some of our favorite Kings from past books. The danger is different than what we are used to and there’s a whole different set of rules for Zora.  I am truly on the edge of my seat waiting to see how all of this is going to unfold in the end. Donna Grant’s world building is top-notch and amazing. It is so easy to get lost within her realms. 

Review: Unforgiven by Rebecca Zanetti

Unforgiven 

Rebecca Zanetti 

Deep Ops Series, Book 5

Kindle Edition, 344 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2022 by Lyrical Press
Run:
Gemma Falls never expected to use her game theory expertise to outrun a killer. But for years, that skill is all that kept her one step ahead of a deadly stalker. When Gemma gets the chance to teach at D.C. University, she hopes she and her young daughter have found a safe harbor. The only flaw is the arrogant philosophy professor who’s always underfoot giving unwanted advice—in his sexy British accent . . .

Hide:
Jethro Hanson has blood on his hands. He’s working within ivy-covered university halls now, but he knows that his work with the Deep Ops team and the deadly acts he once committed for the sake of Queen and country place him beyond forgiveness—until he meets Gemma . . .

Seek:
Soon, the passion between them stuns them both. But when Jethro discovers a threat is fast overtaking her, he must choose between the redemption he seeks—and releasing the ever-present killer inside . . .

4 Stars

Rebecca Zanetti keeps readers hooked with nail biting, thrilling, psychological suspense and a fantastic romance woven in…..  Unforgiven is truly an edge of your seat read. 

Gemma is a single mother on the run with everything to lose. Changing locations and jobs every few months to keep her and her child safe. The woman is always looking over her shoulder. Not wanting The violence of her past to catch up with her, she presents herself as a cold, uncaring woman. When that’s the last thing in the world she truly is. 

Jethro is a college professor with a secret past that he is trying to walk away from.  The man is an amazing operative but this Brit is ready for those missions to remain in the past. Yeah when we want things to stay in the past they seem to do so. And now a new hire at the college has somehow made her way into his life and into the path of his past danger.

I’m not even sure where to begin on this one. Hats off to Rebecca Zanetti because this was one of those books that hit you hard. I mean that in the best of ways. Gemma and Jethro are perfect for each other. Her protective demeanor truly makes you not be able to judge a book by its cover. Jethro is all alpha, extremely protective and unconditionally devoted. Their romance is a slow burn but it was one that I was rooting for the entire time.  Unforgiven is extremely suspenseful. Lots of twist interns you don’t see coming and totally hits on that psychological level. There are many times I had goosebumps but yet I could not stop reading because I had to know what happened. I also have to mention that Gemma‘s daughter was extremely cute and the story wouldn’t have been the same without her. Rebecca Zanetti truly knows how to keep us hanging on for everything with her tortured heroes and the women that come to love them.  

Review: The Proof is in the Poison by Diane Kelly

The Proof is in the Poison 

Diane Kelly 

Southern Homebrew Mysteries Series, Book 2 

Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2022 by Berkley Books
Moonshine shop owner Hattie Hayes is ready to lend a hand when a mystery starts brewing at a train convention in Chattanooga, TN, in this charming cozy mystery series.

Now that her moonshine shop is up and running, Hattie Hayes can focus her efforts on expanding her fledgling business to events in the area, like the Chattanooga Choo Choo Model Train Convention, which is running full steam ahead at the convention center down the block. Hattie is all aboard, seizing this perfect opportunity to promote her Southern homebrew to the folks who have come to the city for the annual event.

But when an attendee dies after drinking some of Hattie’s moonshine, she’ll need to prove her innocence. Between tight-lipped train hobbyists and competitors for a coveted convention prize, Hattie has a wide array of suspects to choose from, and she’ll need to use all the tricks up her sleeve to make sure her moonshine business can survive a murderer and stay on track.

4 Stars

The Proof is in the Poison is a fantastic and exciting addition to the Southern Homebrew Mystery Series. 

Hattie Hayes is taking advantage of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Model Train convention being at the convention center down the block. Handing out flyers, hosting a mixer and mingling with the convention goers is a great way to drum up some business for The Moonshine Shake.  Haddie and her lovable and Teacher of all things moonshine, Granddaddy on his scooter take the convention by storm. They were even able to manage to drum up some business and turn some people onto some shine.  When a convention goer ends up dead, fingers are pointed towards Hattie and her BlackBerry moonshine. To save her name and her business, Hattie decides to do a little sleuthing of her own ”while” helping out Detective Ace find out who killed this train hobbyist.

I very much enjoyed The Proof is in the Poison. Diane Kelly is an amazing writer and it definitely shows in everything she does. I truly could care less about model trains but yet she found a way to have me interested in the topic. Am I going to go and get a model train now, no I will not but it was a different twist and fun twist for a cozy. Hattie is an amazing character. She is proud of what she does. Even though she knows that she should stay out of it she pushes her way in and finds the answers that help solve the mystery.  I really enjoyed the amount of time that Hattie and Marlon spent together in the story whether it be helping to clear her name or showing up so she could appease a group of convention goers . He is definitely a good sport and I definitely love the touch of romance that’s within the story. Granddaddy may be my favorite character.  He is hilarious and hysterical. I love when he gets fired up and how he’s willing at 90 years old to still stand up for everything he believes in.   A fun note to add-  blackberries are my favorite berry and I do love BlackBerry moonshine. The recipes included within the book sound amazing and I am very much looking forward to trying some of these fabulous sounding drinks. 

Review: Death by Beach Read by Eva Gates

Death By Beach Read 

Eva Gates 

Lighthouse Library Mystery Series, Book 9

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2022 by Crooked Lane Books
Librarian Lucy’s new historic house comes with a lot of baggage and family secrets. Can she put them to rest or will a killer bring Lucy’s family to their downfall, in the 9th Lighthouse Library mystery.

It’s spring in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Lucy and Connor have moved into their new home at last, a historic cottage on the Nags Head Beach. The house needs a lot of renovations, but they worked hard over the winter to get it ready. Lucy is now happily immersed in her work at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, planning her wedding, and decorating the house. That is, until a dead body disrupts their peaceful new abode.

The first night Lucy’s alone in the house, with the company of Charles the library cat, she hears sounds. Investigating they see footsteps in the dust of the unfinished living room, and the door to the outside is open. Lucy’s reminded that the house is said to be haunted: forty years ago the teenage daughter of the owners fled in the night, and never again stepped foot inside her family home.

But the sounds have an all-too-human origin and one evening Lucy and Connor find the dead body of a man they don’t even recognize in their kitchen. They soon realize he has a long-time connection to their house. Lucy’s forced to find out what happened all those years ago and why it’s threatening her happiness today.

Meanwhile, the Classic Novel Reading Club is reading The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne, a book about another old house full of secrets. Can Lucy find parallels to her own situation in Hawthorne’s fiction before the killer strikes again?

4.5 Stars
Spring is blooming in the Outer Banks, Lucy and Connor have finally moved into their historic cottage right on the beach. As the work on the house is finished Lucy and Connor are ready to make it their home. Now Lucy is focusing on her work at the lighthouse library, planning her wedding and decorating their new home. Well, until a dead body is found at their new home. On her first night staying home alone Lucy here sounds and sees foot prints and a place there should be none. They have a house with history and with that person comes baggage.To settle her own mind and get to the bottom of what’s going on, Lucy is forced to find out what the baggage of the past is that is now threatening her future.
I absolutely adore the Lighthouse Library Mystery Series and Death by Beach Read is really something. The mystery is well plotted and the pacing of the book is perfect. I feel Lucy made a lot of personal growth between the last book and this book. She doesn’t take everything that everyone says at face value and is standing up for herself and away I have not seen her down before. I really like that about her. I also love that her and Connor are starting their lives together. They haven’t made it to the altar yet but I know it’s got to be coming soon. Fingers crossed. Eva Gates Draws you in with her wonderful characters, the lovable cat Charles and a mystery that keeps you guessing. This series truly does get better with each book.

Review: A Fatal Booking by Victoria Gilbert

A Fatal Booking 

Victoria Gilbert 

Booklover’s B&B Mysteries, Book 3

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2022 by Crooked Lane Books
Booklover Charlotte is delighted to welcome an eclectic group of guests to Chapters Bed and Breakfast for a book club retreat focused on fairy tales and classic children’s literature. But when one of the guests is poisoned at a Mad Hatter tea party, Charlotte realizes she’s fallen down a rather unpleasant rabbit hole

The victim – an opinionated busybody whose jewelry store sold original designs, along with some possibly “hot” merchandise – had plenty of enemies, spurring Charlotte and Ellen to offer their well-honed investigative skills to assist the local police. But as they delve deeper into the each of the guest’s stories, they realize all of them had a motive, and the means, to close the book on the unfortunate victim.

Enlisting the aid of a few local residents, as well as their new ally, agent Gavin Howard, Charlotte and Ellen vow to reveal the truth, even if the path to any sort of happy ending is strewn with deadly danger.

3.5 Stars
A Fatal Booking is a fun and very well farted cozy Mystery.
Book lover and former teacher Charlotte has inherited her late aunts B&B. Chapters, a literary themed B&B located in beautiful Beaufort North Carolina. After a last-minute cancellation Charlotte is delighted to host a book club of a former colleague with a theme of fairytales and classic children’s literature. What should be more than a delightful time turns into something much more mysterious. Come to find out the members of the book club don’t care for each other too well. During their costume mad hatter tea party one of the guests was found dead. Charlotte calls on the help of neighbor Ellen Montgomery, who has a few little secrets of her own, to get to the bottom of this mystery. With plenty of suspects there’s so many ways this mystery could go.
I very much enjoyed this charming cozy mystery. Charlotte is an amazing sleuth and I love the fact that she shares every bit of information that she gets with the police. Charlotte is a very likable character. I also love Ellen. She is a firecracker and I love that she has The past that she does. She’s a very interesting character and definitely adds to the story. I love Charlotte and Garrett. I can’t wait to see how they unfold. Author Victoria Gilbert as given us well-developed characters, a complex yet intriguing mystery and a bit of romance on top. Just the way I like my cozy mysteries.

Review: Etched in Honor by Carrie Ann Ryan

 

Etched in Honor 

Carrie Ann Ryan 

Aspen Pack Series, Book 1

Paperback, 306 pages
Published May 23rd 2022
NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan returns to the world of paranormal in the thrilling and dynamic new Aspen Pack series.

The betrayal that had nearly taken out the Aspen Pack has passed, but the ramifications of starting with a new hierarchy are taking their toll on Audrey Porter. Once traitor to the former leaders for trying to save their people, she’s now the Beta of the Pack and must try to hold their shattered remains together. Only she never expected the man from her past to awaken memories long since buried.

Gavin Powers is the new Tracker for the Aspen, yet it feels as though he’s always been part of the Pack, rather than a newcomer trying to heal a people long since thought forgotten. There are secrets within the den that could alter how the world sees shifters, and if Gavin isn’t careful, his attraction to Audrey could ruin everything.

There is a mysterious new enemy on the horizon, one long since vanquished into myth. As the darkness surrounding the Packs is unveiled, it will take a wolf and a lioness to unbury the past and fight for their future—or risk losing everything before it begins.

4 Stars

An exciting, emotional and mysterious introduction to the Aspen Pack. 

Audrey is the Beta of the Aspen Pack. Not a wolf but a lioness who has been with a pack for a great deal of time. She is strength, combined with beauty and a natural born leader. Her whole purpose is for the betterment of the pack. When a new member joins their pack a bit of Aubrey‘s past is staring her back in the eye. It can’t be possible or can it 

Gavin is the new Tracker for the Aspen Pack. A lone wolf from England he feels like he has always been a part of the Aspens.  Except he doesn’t understand upon meeting Beta why she doesn’t like him like the other Pack members seem too.  While trying to figure out what the issue may be a surprise attack comes from an unknown enemy. Not only does this put the Pack in danger Gavin soon realizes the years of memories that he’s missing are all of a sudden back in his head.

What an amazing introduction to the Aspen pack. Etched in Honor Is a fantastic beginning and introduction to what is going to be an exciting new series. Aubrey and Gavin I have a story that will break your heart and make you fall in love all over again.  I love how the two of them work together to find themselves, a friendship, to be pack mates and even more to find love.  The story is emotional. There’s danger learning on the page and there is love to be found. My favorite kind of read. 

Carrie Ann Ryan knows how to get her readers emotionally invested in her characters. 

Review: Strawberried Alive by Jenn McKinlay

Strawberried Alive 

Jenn McKInlay 

Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series, Book 14

Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Expected publication: May 3rd 2022 by Berkley Books
The crew from the Fairy Tale Cupcakes shop risks getting burned when they set out to find a murderer who is terrorizing their town

Life is smooth as buttercream at the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery, and newlyweds Mel and Joe are stopping to smell the flours. But things start to crumble one night when an unknown gunman takes a shot at Mel. Though the bullets miss their mark, the cupcake crew goes on high alert to figure out who would want to kill a small-town baker, and why.

When more business owners are attacked, things turn fatal, and locals begin to wonder if the killer could be one of their own. Every shop owner in town starts to fear it’s only a matter of time before they too become victims of the mystery murderer. Despite the cupcake crew’s superb baking skills, it will be anything but a piece of cake to catch the killer, as they try to prevent anyone else from being berried.

4.5 Stars
Mel is having one of those weeks so the cupcake levels are high. A bridezilla with last minute changes to cupcakes all but ready to go and after the long hours Fixing the last-minute changes to the cupcakes as Mel is heading home, shots are fired in the alley behind the bakery. Now Mel is looking over her shoulder, another shop owner thinks Mel is at the center of the crime. With neighboring shops turning against her and shooter on the loose, Mel goes into hiding but keeps her eye on all that’s going on to get to the bottom of this cupcake caper.
Strawberried Alive Is a fantastic dive back into the world of the Fairytale Cupcakes crew. There is so much emotion going through this book. Everyone is worried and before they can figure anything else more events keep happening. Angie can’t stand that she can’t help her best friend, Mel doesn’t understand why the town is against her and her bakery and why someone would be shooting at her. Jenn McKinlay did a fantastic job with keeping me glued to the page. Strawberried Alive was a one sit read for me. I could not put it down. It’s always fun to visit with Mel, Angie Tate, Oz and the gang. I love how they come together no matter what is going on. Although I have come to realize it’s very hard to keep a secret that involves anything to do with the Fairytale Cupcake Bakery.

Review: Fated in Winter by Carrie Ann Ryan

Fated in Winter 

Carrie Ann Ryan 

Tallon Pack Series, Book 11

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: May 2nd 2022
Conner Jamenson knows two things:

One day he might turn rogue.

And he can never risk his mate.

Romy Temple knows what it means to be lonely.

She’s spent ninety-nine years in the Talon Pack, not part of the hierarchy, and not quite old enough to be elder.

She’s the wolf no one remembers.

With a rogue on the loose and the winter season approaching, two wolves who promised they would never fall find themselves on the brink of doing what could cost them the most.

Each other.

Originally found in the Shifters & Mistletoe Anthology.

4 Stars

Short with an emotional punch.

A chance meeting changed fate for two wolves that weren’t sure where they were headed. Romy knows loneliness all too well. Surviving the original pack wars she has been staying under everyone’s radar for just about a century. Connor is a wolf that shift exceptionally fast and has two great fears. One is going rouge and two is hurting his mate. A chance meeting has her saving his life. An order from the Beta’s has them working together. Then fate stepped in and gave them what they didn’t even know they needed.

Carrie Ann Ryan hit us hard and fast with all the emotions and feels with Fated in Winter. Short and powerful Connor and Romy gain something they never expected to have. Through all the heartache and suffering they found happiness together in the end.

Review: A Margin for Murder by Lauren Elliott

A Margin for Murder 

Lauren Elliott 

Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery Series, Book 8

Kindle Edition, ‎, 304 pages
Published April 26th 2022
In the riveting new mystery from the USA Today bestselling author, a murder and a missing first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses send rare bookstore owner Addie Greyborne on an investigation to challenge even the most distinguished of bibliophiles…

Addie leaves her Greyborne Harbor bookstore, Beyond the Page Books and Curios, in the capable hands of her assistant while she travels to the neighboring town of Pen Hollow to attend a book sale at a library that is closing due to lack of funding. But the real find is a bookmobile bus, which she’s excited to refit as a traveling bookstore to hit all the summer festivals. The bookmobile also holds a surprising treasure: several classic first editions and an early edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

But before the bookmobile can be delivered to Addie, a fatal car crash occurs. When an autopsy reveals poison in the victim’s system and the first editions go missing, it’s up to Addie to determine what would drive someone to murder. If she’s not careful, however, she may be the next one to be dead on arrival…

4 Stars

Addie and Paige are on a simple trip to purchase books from a library sale in a neighboring town. What should be a fun and simple visit to get some new things for the bookstore turns into a complicated mess that no one saw coming. They find some books, obtain a few pieces of furniture and are now the new owners of a bookmobile. The glory is only celebrated for moments when they should be receiving the bookmobile that they just purchased, the said vehicle is involved in a murder. A murder that has Addie and Paige as the number one suspects. With not being allowed to leave town and a police chief that doesn’t seem to want to look any further for suspects, Addie can’t help to do what she does and get to the bottom of this even if no one else wants to look in any other direction.

Lauren Elliot has a way of keeping you guessing and laughing throughout the entire story. That was no different with A Margin for Murder. This story is well plotted with plenty of clues dropped here and there to keep you guessing all along the way. Addie goes through A roller coaster of emotions throughout the story. Not only is she dealing with being a murder suspect and a wrecked bookmobile that she’s owned for an hour, Addie should be celebrating her birthday. Even with all of the emotions going on, Addie does what she does best and gets to the bottom of this mystery. I very much enjoyed this read and I very much look forward to seeing what happens to Addie in the future.