Secrets in a Small Town by Nicole Stiling

Nicole Stiling’s debut novel Secrets in a Small Town is a dynamic romance meets mystery that keeps you on your toes yet smiling page to page. No worries with this one, you won’t be scared to turn out the lights but you will be enchanted and thoroughly entertained.

Savannah Castillo is the town manager of a sleepy little community of fewer than 1,500 people. She picked this small town specifically because it was an ideal place to raise her daughter, Eliana. Savannah is 100% an ice queen. She lets no one, other than her little one, close to her. This control fanatic is disturbed by the sudden onslaught of mysterious gifts. They arrive at her office and home at all given times with no sender to be found. The gifts start increasing in frequency as well as becoming more and more threating. Savannah thinks she can handle this on her own until her assistant goes over her head and involves the one person Savannah wants to avoid more than anyone, the chief of police, Micki Blake.

Micki loves working in Winter Valley. She was worried when she left the hustle and bustle of the city she would be bored. Come to find out she likes the slow pace of small-town life. The only thorn in her side is that the town manager seems to loathe her for reasons she can’t quite grasp. Micki takes Savannah’s attitude in stride and throws it right back at her needling the uptight town manager whenever she gets the chance. You really can’t rule this lighthearted good-natured police chief. When Micki’s friend and Savannah’s executive assistant, Chloe, brings the gift situation to Micki’s attention, the chief is bound and determined to help her abrasive nemesis.

Nicole Stiling can write a damn good book that is for sure. My mind is still boggled a bit that this is a debut novel. It really has a good flow, the plot is dynamic and the dialogue reads very natural. From the very first page, I was drawn to the story and the main characters. As caustic as Savannah was at times I still liked her and Micki is just a main you are immediately drawn to. There were enough twists and turns in who the stalker might be that I was guessing to the end. I will definitely be reading what Nicole Stiling has to offer next.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Cash and the Sorority Girl by Ashley Bartlett (Cash Braddock | Book 3)

This is the third book in the Cash Braddock series. I live for this series. Live. For. It! I love the paradox that is Cash. This amazing human being with her genuine spirit just pulls to me. On the flip side, she’s a drug dealer so there is there conundrum you find yourself as the reader in. It’s glorious. Totally love Cash, you get it.

In this one, Cash is still a CI for the Sacramento PD, and her handler Laurel, the detective she is head over heels in love with. Cash’s cash flow is stagnant, she wants to get back at the rival dealer that has snaked all her old clients, she has no idea what her future outside of dealing hold yet she is drawn to helping Laurel and her colleagues track down a fresh batch of bad guys. Ketamine is being used at the local university to drug and rape young women specifically at frat parties. It really hits the fan with Laurel’s younger sister, Lane is raped.

If I can say one thing about this book is that Cash and Lane’s friendship and their time together is breathtakingly beautiful and totally awesome. You really feel that bond come right off the page. Cash is there for Lane in a way not many people can understand. Of course, Cash and Laurel are amazing too. Their chemistry just pulls at you. These two have so much baggage and issues yet they get each other. Laurel is having hell with this case, her feelings of how to cope with what happened to Lane. It’s a lot but it is a great read. I desperately need the next one. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I am absolutely addicted to this series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Payback by Charlotte Mills

Oh wowzers! Payback is a solid whodunit with smart twists and turns that keep you turning the page. You are working just as hard as the detectives to keep up with this one. Charlotte Mills has written a delightful police drama filled with romance, banter, and suspense. Did I mention this book was smart?

Detective Constable Kate Wolfe has been sent to Warner, a small rural town as punishment for a screw-up. We don’t know what Kate did but it must have big enough for the brass to send her away far away from London. She super sullen about being sent away and her attitude towards everyone speaks volumes about her level of pissed off. Kate’s arrival just happens to coincide with an unexpected rash of crimes. So she might be mad but she’s also busy.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Taylor had her time in a big city. For years she worked in Manchester but decided to leave the urban epicenter for the laid back life of Warner. While Kate is sullen and prickly, Helen is cheeky and fun-loving. She knows Kate is mad and she prods her with humor and sass until she finally chips away at the walls of the new detective. From the moment these two formidable ladies meet there is heat and attraction. How Mills writes the interactions between Kate and Helen is skillful and dynamic. It keeps you on your toes much as the crimes everyone is trying to figure out.

You really feel like you are in the investigative process of two highly skilled detectives juggling multiple cases. Often times in crime based novel the romance is a lesser part of the whole story. Not this one! Charlotte Mills does a fantastic job of balancing both the romance and crime aspects and weaving them together to make an excellent story. Not to mention there is a monster holy moly guacamole moment. Damn, I never saw it coming and that was awesome. This is a great book you will not regret picking up.

4 out of 5 stars

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Drawing the Line by K.D. Williamson

I think this one is going to come down to personal preferences when it comes to what you are looking for in a romance. A breakup to makeup story can be a success but it’s a hard road to navigate. The reader has root for the couple even though they know there has been a monumental moment that caused that relationship to end. By the time I finished with Drawing the Line I just couldn’t have cared if the love was back or not.

Dani and Becca broke-up four years ago. They tore each other apart at the end of their relationship. One night Dani coming home late after a long night as a medical student walks into an empty apartment. Becca took everything that belonged to her and hit the road. No goodbye, nothing but a disconnected number. In all honesty who could come back from that kind of hurt. Who is going to even take your phone call much less fall in love with you again? That is a monumental mountain to climb up. Add on to it that for four years they have had ZERO contact. Then Becca decides to move back to Atlanta needing forgiveness. Girl, come on now. Dani and Becca share a mutual bestie, Rick, who has played the middleman for years. To say their bad blood is thick is a huge understatement. These two ladies have monster obstacles to overcome even to be in the same room together.

Dani, she’s okay. A bit of an ice queen who keeps everybody at a distance never really overcoming her breakup with Becca. Becca, she is really, really hard to connect with. I did not care for her, and maybe I missed something but she came off like a giant ass. Really neither character made my heart swoon. I needed to root for their them, for their love, and in all honesty, I just wanted to end my time with them as quickly as possible.

K.D. Williamson is a brilliant writer. I love her work, but this one was just not for me. I’m going to chalk it up on me that this isn’t my type of story. I know there will be folks that love Drawing the Line and rightfully so. I think it comes down to preference, this just not being the book for me on this given day.

2.75 out of 5 stars

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Against All Odds by Kris Bryant, M. Ullrich & Maggie Cummings

Against All Odds takes on a journey of finding love in the aftermath of a disaster. A mass shooting takes place at a local bridal boutique and through that carnage, two amazing women find love in its aftermath. Bryant, Ullrich, and Cummings come together to weave a fabulous story or strength, love, and survival.

Peyton Clarke is an off-duty police officer who is finally getting her dress fitted for her sister’s upcoming wedding. A bit hungover after a night out with friends Peyton is struggling with a pounding head. Another customer also in the boutique for a bridesmaid dress fitting takes pity on her and offers her water and some friendly banter. Tory Stevens, a real-estate agent is immediately taken by Peyton. She cannot help but flirt with the gorgeous stranger. Minutes away from asking each other out these two ladies encounter a worst-case scenario.

Bradley Richter is going to steal away his ex-fiancée. She left him, destroyed his life and now is planning to marry another. Bradley is going to steal her back and make everyone pay for ripping them apart. He is a nutcase in every sense of the word. Bradley arrives at the bridal boutique and opens gunfire on everyone, killing eleven and leaving Peyton fighting for her life.

The three authors take the voice of Peyton, Tory, and Bradley and weave a story full of love, survival and well, in Bradley’s case disturbed. Our two leading ladies have an adorable chemistry and a sweet love story. This isn’t as heavy as a story as it could have been. Which I liked. The main focus is on their romance and coming together in the aftermath of a disaster. A lovely story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Secrets of the Last Castle by A. Rose Mathieu

Welcome back Grace Donovan and Elizabeth Campbell, two characters who I have missed. These two badasses have a murder to solve in Secrets of the Last Castle and unfortunately this time around they are on opposite sides. Drama, suspense, betrayal all with smoldering hot tension, you really cannot ask for more. A. Rose Mathieu comes out swinging with her sequel to Sins of Our Father.

Elizabeth is asked to take the case of a young African American male that is accused of murdering an elderly Caucasian woman in an alleyway. The young man swears he didn’t do it and Elizabeth has full faith in his denial. Grace is on the other side of the coin. What evidence the police do have unfortunately points right to Elizabeth’s client. They are both in a rock and a hard place and this case will take its toll on their romantic relationship. It’s and tense and bumpy ride for these two leading ladies.

This book has twists and turns all over the place. This is a fascinating story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This mystery has tons of history woven throughout this who done it. You will be so glad you read this one. Oh, and if you have not read Sins of Our Father, don’t skip it. You can read these out of order, but really you don’t want to. Both are fabulous reads.

5 out of 5 stars

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Alias by Cari Hunter

Cari Hunter gas a new book out, Alias. You don’t need to read further to know that this is a damn good book. It was written by Hunter, a damn good book is guaranteed each time she puts one out? I will expand because this is my review, DUH :), but one thing you can count on is that when you pick up a book by Hunter it is going to be awesome. She is an amazing author that weaves intricate tales and keeps you right on the edge of your seat.

Alias introduces us to a woman, Rebecca Elliott, who has been severely injured in an automobile accident. She has large gaps in her memory and has no clue who she is and how the accident happened. The passenger how was riding with her is deceased and the Welsh police are asking questions about what happened on that fateful night. The clues just aren’t adding up, something is definitely off. I won’t go into more details, I’ll just leave you with this Rebecca is not who she seems and there is a big ol’ can of worms about to get opened.

Detective Bronwen Pryce was the first one on the scene. She has a gut instinct that this automobile accident is way more than what it seems. Nothing fits and something continues to niggle at her mind. Pryce refuses to let things go and write this off as an accident. She needs to know more about Rebecca Elliott and why she was headed out of town in such a hurry.

In Alias, I loved the mystery, crime, suspense of the book. I thought it was done fabulously. Perfect if you will. What nags me about this book is I thought the romance was misplaced, ill-timed and surprisingly unnecessary. If it wasn’t a romance it would have been better, it just didn’t help the book at all. It felt like an afterthought that was pasted into the book and didn’t really jive with the characters or the flow of the story. It would have been so much better if the characters had a moment in the end when everything was squared away and all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed.

Overall a fabulous mystery that I highly recommend.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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