Benched by Blythe Rippon

Benched is a sequel. If you haven’t read Barring Complications, well I am kind of jealous of you because goodness, that book is amazing and to read it for the first time… let’s just say to me that the book is enthralling. You cannot put it down! So a sequel is tricky business, it’s either an amazing chance to reconnect with characters you have invested in or worst case scenario…a dud! Benched is no dud my friends, this is a fantastic book. It every bit holds its own with its predecessor.

Barring Complications was unique in a way in the two mains, Victoria and Genevieve had this pull towards each other. Even when they couldn’t communicate verbally, because of a pending case, they had this undeniable connection. I loved that about that book, it really drew me in and I was amazed by how well Rippon was able to connect that with the reader.

Where Benched comes in is Victoria and Genevieve have had their whirlwind romance and real life is settling in. Two very powerful players in D.C. whose paths have crossed in a monumental court decision that changes the political landscape of America are destined to meet again professionally. How do they navigate these new waters now that they have become lovers? EEK, problems arise, and neither of them handles it very well.

This is where I think their differences in personality really become fleshed out. Victoria has always struggled with being out while Genevieve is the cover of Advocate. So they struggle and they make missteps that make them wonder if they can forge ahead a cohesive unit or do they need to go separate ways. Is love always enough? I’m not going to lie there were a few moments that I thought, Holy mackerel sapphire what is happening, why are they doing this to each other, but in the end romance prevails.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Sins of Our Fathers by A. Rose Mathieu

Attorney Elizabeth Campbell is a fearless legal badass. Born into privileged upper crust family, Elizabeth was set to follow in her father’s footsteps. Much to her parent’s dismay, Elizabeth decided to work in a nonprofit legal clinic arena instead of corporate law. This character follows her heart, even when it leads her to scary dark basements chasing killers in the dead of night. She is a Sherlock Holmes with a side of Perry Mason. I’m not kidding when I say she is fearless! I will also say she is a character that steals your heart because she is so inherently good even when she is bending/breaking the law.

Assigned to review old cases for the mayor’s office, Elizabeth comes across one particular conviction that just doesn’t add up. A special needs man, Raymond, was imprisoned for the brutal killing a Catholic priest. Elizabeth follows her gut and digs for clues, demanding justice for the perceived innocent man. As Raymond’s case is re-opened as the murders start again, same modus operandi only this time Raymond was behind bars.

I’m not giving you anymore, the twists and turns in this story are fabulous. Sins of Our Fathers is well written and focused. This does not read like the work of a first-time author. Mathieu builds up the tension and throws you into the action. You feel your heart pounding right along with Elizabeth. This heroine needs no saving but there is the occasional help of a super cute but cantankerous police detective, Grace Donovan.

A romance this is not, oh it’s there, it’s just ultra-light. I feel like we may be building this relationship in a future book. What this is, is a well throughout mystery, with great details and enough curveballs to keep you guessing to the end. I’m hoping this is the first of many times we see Elizabeth and Grace in action.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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The Chameleon’s Tale by Andrea Bramhall

This is an amazing book that captures your attention and doesn’t let go to the final chapter. A story if two strong women fighting for justice, rekindling an old friendship and finding true love all the while uncovering one of the biggest scandals in South African history.
Imogene Frost is a barrister in London. She grew up in South Africa, but after her mother was brutally murdered she was sent to boarding school by her wealthy land-owning father. Bitterness and contempt have filled her heart and she swore to never return to her birthplace, but the death of her father forces her hand.

Amahle, the daughter of Mr. Frost’s maid, was Imogene’s dearest childhood friend. These two were inseparable until Imogene was forced to move. Amahle has grown up to be a successful politician, fighting for the injustices of the South African people. Her causes include women’s right and public HIV treatment, she has made life’s mission to be a champion for those who have been horribly suppressed.

At times this story can be gut wrenching, chaotic and gritty. The stories of rape and torture are harrowing, my stomach turned on more than one occasion. What Bramhall does is throw you headfirst into the story. You feel the character’s pain as much as their triumphs. This captures your attention and blazes right through chapter after chapter. Fair warning you will not and cannot put this book down. Good news is there is a happy ending and hopefully many more adventures for Amahle and Imogene.

4 out of 5 stars

The Chameleon’s Tale
by Andrea Bramhall
Link: http://a.co/5peX7PY

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Swelter by D. Jackson Leigh

If you have a passion for ranch management, well then this is the book for you. I’m talking livestock production, breeding programs, animal health, management principles with a side of romance and a nefarious drug lord.

Griffin Reese is an up and coming defense lawyer from Dallas. Her business partner and lover, Christine, begins taking legal cases for drug kingpin and all hell breaks loose. On the run from the man who aims to kill her before she can testify in federal court, Griffin hides out on her grandfather’s cattle ranch in the panhandle of Texas.

Teal Giovanni was a US senator’s right-hand woman and her lover too. The problem is the senator happens to be married, while the senor’s husband is understanding of her extramarital affairs, her constituents are not. When the press catches wind of Washington’s juiciest headline, Teal is cast aside while her boss plays innocent. She tucks her tail between her legs and heads for her cousin’s ranch in New Mexico. Her car gives out, and she is stranded in Texas and guess who rescues her, you got it, Griffin.

Where books with similar premises thrive (ex. Carsen Taite’s latest, Without Justice), this one does not. Swelter is not a long book by any means but it feels like you just read forever. There are too many details about inconsequential subjects, which become distracting, and quite frankly boring as hell. Paragraphs about castrating cattle just don’t make my heart swoon, but hey maybe it’s just me. The setting should add to a story, not be the story.

2 out of 2 stars

Swelter
by D. Jackson Leigh
Link: http://a.co/3JIUqQW

Without Justice by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite tells a great story. She is consistent in giving her readers a good if not great legal drama with characters who are insightful, well thought out and have good chemistry. You know when you pick up one of her books you are getting your money’s worth time and time again. Consistency with a great legal drama is all but guaranteed. If you’re a fan of Taite’s work, Without Justice, is a no brainer.

Cade Kelly is a former Assistant US Attorney from Chicago. Her life is turned upside down when a mob family she is prosecuting sends their hitman after her. A bullet to the chest almost cost her life. Forced into the witness protection program was her only chance of survival. This Chicago hotshot lawyer is whisked way to a rural small Texas town to live out her days till the Feds can track down her killer’s and put the Oliveri out of business for good.

Emily Sinclair is the daughter of a US Senator and the newly appointed district attorney for Lawson County. Emily has been so focused on her career for so many years she has only just realized she is longing for the stability that only a family can provide. As the new DA, she has a lot of irons in the fire, but the one feeling she cannot shake is she wants more than just a career.

There is profound chemistry as soon as Cade and Lily meet for the first time. However, both struggle to get the relationship going. Cade is living a double life and is uneasy in lying to someone she cares deeply for. She feels as if she is bringing danger right to Emily’s doorstep. Emily feels the pressure of her work weighing her down and there is something about Cade that she doesn’t fully trust. Yet their time together is compelling and the pull is there no matter how much they resist it.

This book has legal drama in spades, a developed love story, and captivating characters. You can’t help but like this book, its solid on all fronts and well worth your time. My only complaint is that I wish we had just a smidgen more time between the two main characters. A few more down moments of them with dialogue would have been fantastic.

4 out of 5 stars

Without Justice
by Carsen Taite
Link: http://a.co/4sLU4gh

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Heartwood by Catherine Lane

Heartwood by Catherine Lane is an exquisite story that will stay with you long after you’ve finishing reading this one. This multifaceted story weaves a tale of star-crossed lovers of the past and a new love that is just developing. Two stories in one that are weaved together for an unforgettable tale of hope, happiness and perseverance.

The Past – 1960: Beth Walker is a young woman from quaint Steelhead Springs. Beth has never left her hometown, but she has an imagination like no other. Beth, a gifted writer who has only just begun to acknowledge her skill with a pen, spends her day working in a real estate office and spends all her other time writing. Enter, Dawn Montgomery, a famous actress from Hollywood who just one day shows up in Beth’s town with her husband in tow, ready to buy the most remote home possible. Beth and Dawn develop an almost instant friendship. You see Dawn’s husband has left for his next movie and Beth becomes Dawn’s constant companion. These two have this dynamic relationship that just draws you in. The story is told purely from Beth’s perspective and you can really feel how she is totally enamored with Dawn. Dawn is the epitome of complex. You cannot help but have an internal debate of is she playing Beth for a fool or has she fallen under love’s spell as well.

The Present Day: Maggie Chalon is Beth Walker’s, now in her seventies, personal chef. The crazy thing is she has never met the famed writer. Hired by Beth’s lawyer, Maggie makes Beth’s meals every day, most of which are barely touched. Vivienne, the nurse from Hell, reminds Maggie of her place and that she should stop asking questions on Beth Walker’s health. Maggie cannot let it go. She knows without a shadow of a doubt that something nefarious is going on, and why is Beth Walker never to be seen.

Nikka Vaskin is an up and coming lawyer at Truman and Steinbrecker. Work is her everything, she has everything to prove and has a timeline in place for her rise on the career ladder. A chance moment throws her into the path of Beth Walker and Maggie Chalon. This is when craziness ensues, and Nikka working for the enemy, has to look beyond the facts and take a giant leap of faith to find out if the impulsive and highly attractive Maggie might be on to something.

The book switches seamlessly from past to present day, telling the two stories with such emotion and detail you are catapulted into the story. I found myself hanging on every word, desperately cheering for both couples. Catherine Lane develops characters that reach right off the page and steal your heart. To say this a is great book is by far an understatement!

5 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.

Heartwood
by Catherine Lane
Link: https://amzn.com/3955336743

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Trial by Fury by KG MacGregor

I picked up this book a few weeks ago, not really reading the description but going off the fact that KG MacGregor always puts out quality material and it usually covers interesting or thought provoking subjects. This book could have easily been picked off of the last few weeks headlines about the travesty and cover-up at Baylor University. Sadly, the book was written before that whole nightmare was brought to the public’s attention. This book tackles the horrible problem and aftermaths of rape and sexual assaults on our college campuses. Trial by Fury is a lot of legal and a smidgen of romance. It is very good, very informative and very heavy.

For me this book was good and disappointing all wrapped together. Honestly I don’t think this book is really a romance at all. While two characters, Theo and Celia, do become a couple and fall madly in love, the book isn’t really about that. It is more the legal working of Theo and her staff figuring out a way to make the rapists and the college pay for the crimes and then the mishandling of the victims’ rights..  While the subject is so important and swift action needs to be taken by colleges across America, you do feel like characters weren’t ever really developed, and most definitely the romance was very flat. This book felt very educational, and I could have been reading an in-depth expose. Don’t go into this one expecting to be overjoyed by the love, you will come out smarter than before though.

3.75 stars

Trial by Fury
by KG MacGregor
Link: https://amzn.com/1594934924

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