The Marriage Pact

the marriage pact

I received this ARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married and live happily ever after.  That’s the dream, eh?  Jake is a therapist and Alice is his rocker turned corporate lawyer wife.  They have it all, a house in San Francisco, thriving careers and true love.  Enter “The Pact”.  Introduced to them by a rockstar client of Alice’s, it seems like a great program for maintaining the loving and healthy marriage they have as newlyweds.

With The Pact, the best policy is to always do the thing that will attract the least amount of attention.

Cookie cutter people in cookie cutter marriages with zero marital strife.  Sound to good to be true?  It is.

You hold things together every second of every day, then one time, just for an instant, one person loses concentration, lets go of the thread, and the whole thing unravels.

 Their marriage is no longer two people, it’s part of a machine.  A strange, omniscient machine.  As they struggle to fit in, they only stand out more.  After all, when your marriage is governed by a set of laws you don’t fully understand, you’re bound to be punished.

Each one of us becomes so used to the person we think we are.  In our minds, we carry a vision of ourselves, naïvely certain of our own moral boundaries, what we would and would not do.

The walls have eyes, the streets ears.  Will they escape with their marriage in tact?  Their lives?

Four stars.

Expected Publication Date: July 25, 2017

The Waking Land

waking

I received this ARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Elanna has been raised a hostage in a foreign land-well treated by the king, educated, castle dwelling-but a hostage just the same.  She cares for botany, for her best friend and dreams of heading off to study under a master.  Her memories for her hometown have faded to nearly nothing, her home is Laon now.  The rumors of magic from her homeland all but forgotten.

Then the nightmares faded; my tutors taught me that, while magic is considered anathema, in truth it simply has no place in the rational, modern world.

Everything changes when her father comes for her, at long last.  Accused of regicide, her “otherness” has never left her.  To Caeris she must run, to a land and a people she no longer knows.  It’s time for a revolution, birth land against homeland.

No one in this revolution is ever alone.

A motley crew of assorted figures fill out our cast of characters and Bates’ writing shines.  I loved the prose, loved the plot, loved the world-building.  Follow along as El goes to war against an empire, and herself.

All the gods damn it.  I hate battle, El.  I hate it-I hate what it makes me into.  It makes people’s lives seem not to matter.  But they do.  No one should have to die like that, not even for freedom.

You see, Elanna isn’t just a hostage.  She has the power to wake the land.  What does that mean?  Read and find out!

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Grief Cottage

grief

I received this ARC from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA in exchange for an honest review.

Eleven year old Marcus has lost his mother, the only family he has ever known.  Sent off to live with a great-aunt he’s never met on a small South Carolina island, to say he’s undergone some changes is an understatement.  His aunt moved there to escape a past she doesn’t discuss and a family she scarcely mentions.  She is an artist, specializing in island scenery and it has provided for her for a number of years.  One of her most famous subjects is “Grief Cottage” a cottage that hosted tragedy 50 years before.  Since then it’s been the subject of gossip and speculation and Marcus feels drawn there.  While trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, he finds a sort of life amongst the sand.

For me it was a time of flat days and anxious thoughts.  The sun rose later and set earlier.  It was as if the summer knew that its best days were gone and was giving in without a fight.

Godwin’s masterful writing made up for any slow periods in the novel, I could always find a sentence or phrase that spoke to me.  As Marcus struggles to process his loss and comprehend a grief he’s never known, his internal monologue bares all.

She said maybe it had been selfish to bring me into the world when she had so little to offer, but nevertheless she had wanted me more than anything in her whole life.  She said I was her great prize.

Though his mom is gone when the story begins, I felt as if she could have been any other the mothers I’ve ever known.  His sorrow is palpable, I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug him.

Well, you did die.  I waited for you to come back and you didn’t.  Whereas I’m still here, coming loose from my moorings, getting ready to fly apart.

Slow-moving and atmospheric, journey with Marcus as he processes what his life has become and solves a mystery or two at the same time.  Pick it up for the plot, finish it for the writing.

Sit Tibi Terra Levis-May the earth lie lightly upon thee.

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

 

 

 

What the Dead Leave Behind

whatthedead

I received this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie is a detective, sort of.  After leaving the St. Paul police force in order to accept a reward for catching an embezzler, he finds himself rich and relatively idle.  Deciding to channel that boredom into “favors” for friends and friends of friends as an unlicensed detective, I get the feeling that his life is more exciting as a civilian.

This is a series and I was able to follow along without having read the first 13 books, which is always nice.  Housewright does a good job of supplying supplementary information in such a way that one unfamiliar with the series will still be able to understand.

I consider this to be the perfect sort of book to take along on a long-haul flight across the world, something I am very familiar with (I’ll be downloading the first few for my transatlantic flights this summer).  Mac’s girlfriend’s daughter implores him to find out what happened to her friend’s father.  He was murdered before the book begins and the police have no leads.  The game is afoot!

I believed in momentum.  I believed that if you keep moving, peeking under beds, peeping over fences, turning over rocks, there’s a better chance of accidents happening, some good, some bad; of the fortuitous unearthing of the odd puzzle piece in the most unlikely nook or cranny.

This is a truly interesting detective mystery.  Perhaps my favorite part was all of the Twin Cities love embedded in it.  No, I’m not from the Twin Cities, nor even the midwest.  I simply love when an author shows hometown pride.  I felt like I was there, from the descriptions of local venues to the complaints about traffic bottlenecks.  Mac is a good man, with a set of skills that he puts to good use.  Will the mystery be solved?  Read and find out.

Now the big question—why do you still care?  Good question.  I felt a little like a historian working a Rubik’s Cube, twisting the sides this way and that until it gave me a clear picture of what happened at such and such a time in such and such a place–but to what purpose?

4 stars.

Expected Publication: June 6, 2017

Take It To The Grave (Part I)

 

 

takethis

I received this ARC from Harlequin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sarah has the perfect life.  Perfect husband.  Adorable baby.  House in the Hamptons.  A life she doesn’t think she deserves, a real upgrade.

Her sister Maisy is a nurse abroad, moving from developing country to developing country and never putting down roots.

The two haven’t spoken in years, but they both continue to think back to a singular event.

The unifying feature in this first part of a serial is that neither of them trust anyone and they both appear to have a great deal to hide.

I know your secret Sarah.

I’m going to tell.

This was a quick 20 minute read but as far as I can tell, the other chapters will be interesting.  Consider my interest piqued.

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 1, 2017

One Taste of Angel-Release Date!

Once again, I’m honored to participate in a Book Blitz for a St. Martin’s Press release.  Expect a review in the next day or two, but until then check this out!

OneTasteOfAngel_BlitzBanner.png

Their love was the stuff of Shakespeare – two star-crossed lovers from rival MC’s

divided by their families’ bloody history, but fate has given Eagle and Serafina a

second chance. Can the biker and the stripper find their redemption in Violetta

Rand’s sexy standalone romance, One Taste of Angel?

Eagle 

I’ve bled for my club. Taken four bullets. Buried eight brothers in six years. Screwed

a hundred women. And only loved one. The one I lost. But there’s something about

Serafina that reminds me of just exactly what was taken from me. Not just because I

can’t resist a damsel in distress.

Serafina

To Eagle, I’m dead. Murdered and cremated, my ashes interred at the local cemetery.

Part of a past I left long ago to save his life. Seeing him now, touching him again

makes me weak, even if he doesn’t recognize the woman I’ve become. Since my

escape from Holly Beach five years ago, I’ve lived by my own rules. And no matter

how much I love Eagle, he’s not going to break those rules.

“Riveting, gritty cast of characters! I was captivated by this intimate glimpse into the

volatile MC world. Violetta Rand’s ability to portray the essence of true love is

enjoyable. Great read!”

-USA Today Bestselling Author D.L. Roan

 

OneTasteofAngel_Whim.jpg

Buy It Here!

The Watcher

the watcher.jpg

I received this ARC from St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Yet another breezy Bella Jewel read for a lazy weekend.  I feel so fortunate to be getting such a steady supply of her books lately, they are fast-paced thrillers!

Marlie has had more than her share of tragedy and horror.  Seven years ago she was kidnapped and tortured at the hands of “The Watcher”.  Now she lives in a cabin in the woods and works a dead-end waitress job rather than deal with the fame being the only survivor of a serial killer brought her.  Things are perfect but she has a life and it’s her own, until her sister, Kaity, goes missing too.

All because I was being a good person.  Life is a bitch like that.

This can’t be happening.  Twice to one family?  When the police show little concern or interest in the case, Marlie hires crack private eye, Kenai and sets off on a road trip to bring her sister home.

This wouldn’t be a Bella Jewel story without some sweet, dramatic romance to round the story out nicely.  Ms. Jewel has delivered once again!

4 stars.

Expected Publication: May 30, 2017

Buy It Here