Riverside Lane by Ginger Black


Riverside Lane by Ginger Black
Publisher: Momentum Books
Genre: Mystery
Length: Full Length (260 pages)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

After arranging a house swap with a debonair antiques dealer, a darkly handsome American named Luca Tempesta arrives in a quaint English village. Tempesta, who claims to run a detective agency in Los Angeles, is supposedly on holiday – but the inhabitants of the village are unconvinced.

Yet, as they attempt to solve the mystery of the stranger in their midst, it gradually transpires that there are more than enough secrets to go around in the village itself, harboured by the local MP and his uptight, ambitious wife; the has-been former game show host; the respectable couple with the jailbird son; the hometown journalist, striving for a scoop that will rescue her from debt; and so on. The place is revealed as a labyrinth of deception masquerading as a picture-postcard hamlet; tension begins to mount in between the dinner parties and evenings at the pub, and soon culminates in an unexpected death.

Behind perfect privets and brightly painted front doors, the lives of Riverside Lane’s residents slowly unravel. Tempesta, guarding his secrets with a vengeance, is suddenly threatened with exposure by the elderly religious zealot Ivy Midwinter, whose own past involved keeping professional confidences. When she challenges him in church, she learns that Tempesta will stop at nothing to protect his privacy …

Set against the exquisite backdrop of a gastronomic village by the Thames, Riverside Lane is a tautly paced page-turner that also gently satirises middle- class English manners: the upstanding denizens of the village watch and whisper behind a mask of English hauteur, whilst their own fragile lives come undone.

I love English movies- especially mysteries – and I really enjoy the ones that give us a slice of British life along with the mystery. If you’re like me, you should give Riverside Lane a try. At first glance, you are presented with a slight mystery to tantalize the inhabitants of Riverside Lane when an American shows up as part of a house swap. It soon becomes evident, though, that there is more to this American than meets the eye, and we also are drawn into the undercurrents that are part of English village life.

Not only does the American have secrets, we soon find that every member of the village does as well. Ms. Black does a masterful job of bringing those secrets out and letting us have a glimpse of them.

It is very character driven, and we get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about them. It’s true that you never know what goes on behind closed doors, and this is amply illustrated in this book.

Kudos to Ms. Black. This is my first time reading this author, but it definitely won’t be my last.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka


The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (321 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Nobody knows what happened to Sarah Cook. The beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton―black and from the wrong side of the tracks―was convicted of the murders and is now on death row. Though he’s maintained his innocence all along, the clock is running out. His execution is only weeks away when his devoted sister insists she spied Sarah at an area gas station. Willing to try anything, she hires PI Roxane Weary to look at the case and see if she can locate Sarah.

Brad might be in a bad way, but private investigator Roxane Weary isn’t doing so hot herself. Still reeling from the recent death of her cop father in the line of duty, her main way of dealing with her grief has been working as little and drinking as much as possible. But Roxane finds herself drawn in to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she links the disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl.

The stakes get higher as Roxane discovers that the two girls may not be the only beautiful blonde teenagers who’ve turned up missing or dead. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane will have to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case―hers included.

Everyone has baggage, even those that we ask to help us.

Roxane Weary knows this better than anyone else. Working as a private investigator, jobs come and go, and she feels that she does okay, even well at her line of work. When Roxane is hired to complete one last ditch effort to save a man from his execution date, Roxane’s bank account and liquor cabinet are running low. When she begins the investigation, she has no idea of where it will lead.

The Last Place You Look is a wild ride from start to finish. The demons that Roxane faces are only compounded by the loss of her father and the frustrating family dynamics that are set into motion. While trying to remedy her past and understand her own future, Roxane struggles with keeping up with each day-although some days get away from her.

The character development, deep plot lines, and dynamic conversations all add to the depth of this wonderful read. The story is smooth flowing, full of energy and never a dull moment. Yet, the story flows and does not feel rushed or forced. As a reader, we experience life from Roxane’s eyes, we see how she analyzes the case, the developments and interestingly, when things go wrong, they go horribly wrong! Roxane is a person, a real character that the reader can fully comprehend. The ups and downs of the story do not feel like they were set to create a plot, but feel like a natural reaction to the world of the characters.

The story comes to a pivotal point when Roxane realizes that she cannot keep going on like she has, she must either back down or push forward-but there is no stagnation. This is a resolution for the reader-our lives will change and we can choose to have a direction of the flow or we can back down and crash with the waves-this is illustrated deeply by Roxane’s choices and the shaping of her development throughout the story.

The Last Place You Look is an amazing suspense story with a strong amount of action/adventure and an awesome amount of human character development-make sure you don’t miss this amazing read!

Engaged in Danger by Barbara Venkataraman


Engaged in Danger by Barbara Venkataraman
Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery Book 4
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Finally, life is good for reluctant family law attorney, Jamie Quinn–her father may get his visa soon, her boyfriend is the bomb, and her law practice is growing like crazy–but when she agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case, everything falls apart. What looked like an opportunity to work with her friend Grace and make some serious bucks has turned into a deadly game, one that could destroy their friendship and tear their town apart. Why couldn’t Jamie just leave well enough alone?

Jamie’s life is good. Her father is getting a visa to come and visit, she loves her boyfriend, and the cases she’s getting are keeping spending money coming in. Then things all fall apart. Her boyfriend is going away on a job and will be gone for three months (THREE MONTHS?!?) and the new case she just took on is high profile and the man involved is dangerous like a shark. Not only that, she’s having a fight with her best female friend. How’s she going to resolve all this?

She starts doing research into the couple’s assets and she finds the wife knows nothing about them. He’s a lawyer but he doesn’t have an office or any jobs she can see. Where is all this money coming from?

The author has a talent for adding enough just enough odd facts to keep you interested and keep you reading to see where the story will go. Jamie is an independent woman who is afraid she may lose her boyfriend to the pretty young woman on the job and you can sympathize with her. She tends to assume things which can be dangerous in her business.

With Russians, money laundering, blackmail and more going around, there’s lots of pieces to pick up, tie together and then do something to fix it without getting hurt. It’s a good thing Jamie is a resilient person and bounces back.

This is a good cozy that romps through the lives of the characters and the case both. It’s just the right length and it has a surprise ending.

Retribution Ridge by Anna Willett


Retribution Ridge by Anna Willett
Publisher: The Book Folks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (159 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A small hiking group in the wilderness – with bloody revenge for company

Milly has barely spoken to her sister Judith in years. They hardly exchanged a word at their mother’s funeral. They could not be further apart.

So when Milly gets an invitation to go on a hiking trip, she hopes it will be an opportunity for reconciliation. Inviting her school-friend Harper along with her for support, the small party head off together into the bush.

What awaits Milly is far from just a bracing hike in the wilderness, but an unexpected encounter with the past. The form it takes is revenge. But who is enacting it against Milly, and why?

One night changed Milly and Judith’s lives forever.

Milly and Judith used to be close, but one foolish mistake shattered their sisterly bond. Ten years later, the death of their mother has sparked the desire to reconnect. Milly is nervous about Judith’s invitation, but willing to try. Unfortunately, from the moment Milly arrives for the hike, something seems off. Judith isn’t acting like herself. Milly pushes aside her discomfort and convinces herself that her uneasiness is simply a result of her and Judith’s estrangement. Milly should have listened to her instincts. The past is lurking in the shadows of the wilderness. Will Milly and Judith escape unscathed or more damaged than ever?

The author has an amazing hand at writing suspense. I found little to fault with the storyline itself.  However, I’m sorry to say I didn’t find any of the characters very likable, particularly Judith and her girlfriend Harper. I always felt Judith was keeping something from Milly. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed, and it made me dislike her even more, especially because Judith has knowledge of Milly’s somewhat fragile state of mind. Once everything is revealed, Judith’s actions and Harper’s complicity are completely inexcusable. By the time they express remorse, it is already too late. Judith and Harper’s actions have placed them all in the path of predators who have no intention of letting any of the women leave the trail alive.

I think Milly is the most likeable of the bunch. While I never truly warmed up to her, I did feel a great deal of sympathy for her. Milly is far from perfect, and she certainly has mistakes she needs to atone for, but she went out to meet Judith genuinely hoping to mend their broken relationship. The tension between the sisters is heartbreaking. There is so much distrust between them that every word spoken is analyzed and second guessed. I kept thinking that a conversation between two mature adults could have fixed this. They could have gone to therapy or had some kind of counselling. A hike in the wilderness seemed like an ill-conceived plan from the start, but I respect Milly for leaving her comfort zone and accepting Judith’s offer.

Despite my issues with the characters, I must say that Ms. Willett did an excellent job of building and maintaining suspense throughout this page-turner. From the moment the group sets out on the hiking trail, the danger is palpable and only increases as the story progresses. The pacing is quick and very well done. Ms. Willett does a great job of blending snippets of the past in with the present so that it all comes together seamlessly in the end.

Retribution Ridge is definitely one of the most intense stories I’ve read in a while. Fans of suspense should certainly give this thriller a try.

The Doctor Is In by Carl Weber and Brenda Hampton


The Doctor Is In by Carl Weber and Brenda Hampton
Publisher: Urban Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (209 pgs)
Heat level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Dr. Kasen Phillips has the magic touch when it comes to helping his patients who are in dire need of counseling services, but when the love of his life winds up missing in action, Kasen s life takes a horrific turn for the worse. His office manager, Voncile Harper, is there to lend a helping hand. She s on a mission to shake Kasen from his misery, by offering him hersweet heatthat he can t resist. It s not long before Kasen finds himself caught up in a web of Voncile s lies, and when he realizes that he may have bitten off more than he can chew, he wants out of their reckless relationship for good. Unfortunately for Kasen, walking away may be difficult to do. Voncile is deep in love, and any man who refuses to play by her rules may be forced to suffer dire consequences.

What do you get when you mix a resentful best friend and an infatuated office manager? Murder, kidnapping and loss of sleep from staying up at night trying to read to see what happens next.

Have you ever met a person and you can tell some things not right about that person real quick? Well that’s the feeling I got when Voncile Harper was introduced in this story. That little voice says she is up to something and it’s not going to be good. Vonvile is Dr. Kasen Phillips’ office manager of two years. Voncile has harbored feelings of lust for Kasen and silently waited to make her interest known. One afternoon after seeing a patient, Kasen has an epiphany and decides to propose to his live-in girlfriend of three years, Raine. Voncile isn’t the only one that’s not happy about Kasen’s proposal.

After his proposal to Raine doesn’t go as he had planned, Kasen arrives home to an empty house. Raine’s belongings are gone and so is Raine. I know we try to give people the benefit of the doubt but Kasen was slow and naive to the people around him because the signs are there that they definitely didn’t have his best interest at heart. For all Kasen knows Raine has ran off with another man and then shortly after Omar stops answering his calls. Kasen isn’t sure what is going on but he has Vonvile to keep him distracted. If only Kasen could have heard me while I was talking to the book telling him no don’t do that.

I highly enjoyed this book. It wasn’t predictable and with the twist it kept the storyline moving in a fast pace. The anticipation was high as I was concerned how will Raine ever get out of her situation. Will Kasen find out how Omar really feels about him? The authors didn’t spend a lot of time with character details but with a novel written with such an active plot I wasn’t left feeling like something was missing.

I am a fan of Carl Weber and familiar with his work. This is the first book I’ve read by Brenda Hampton and I must say I want to read more by this author. This book had my full attention. Suspense, murder, crazy people and a man fighting for the woman that he loves that surely is a book that I’d want to read.

A Cunning Heist by Astrid Arditi

A Cunning Heist by Astrid Arditi
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (320 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Sloane Harper has sworn off men—for her sanity, and her safety. But with or without men, trouble always seems to find Sloane.

When her ex’s ex-mistress comes knocking for help, Sloane does what she does best : she helps way more than she should. As she investigates London’s art scene, Sloane runs into a very handsome but very shady artist, a quirky bunch of thieves, and a cunning old flame. Perhaps Sloane should have sworn off playing private detective instead of men.

I absolutely loved this book and the characters! It’s the second in the series, but there was no trouble following the story. I am going to get the first book as well, though, just because the writing and the main characters are that appealing.

The main character, Sloane, is a fairly recent divorcee with two girls and a maid who does very little. She also had a relationship with Ethan Cunning (see what she did there?) in the last book and helped him solve a crime. He’s been MIA for a while now, though, and Sloane has decided he was just using her. Fine, she’d just concentrate on her children and get on with her life.

Then, Kate (her ex-husband’s ex-lover who was also very involved in the first story) asks for her help, and Sloane just can’t say no, which plunges her into some very madcap adventures (I’ll never be able to look at kibbeh the same way again).

The action is non-stop, the mystery is intriguing, the emotional aspects of Sloane’s life are all top-notch! Ms. Arditi, you nailed this one, and I can’t wait to go back and read the first book as well as add you to my auto-buy list.

His Name Is John by Dorien Grey


His Name Is John (An Elliott Smith Mystery) by Dorien Grey
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (194 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Elliott Smith wakes up in the hospital with a head injury…and an invisible companion. At first, he’s convinced “John” is just a figment of a damaged brain, but when Elliott is fully recovered John is still around—and desperate to find out who he is. Reluctantly, Elliott agrees to help, and discovers Chicago PD has a John Doe on their hands with six bullets in him—who died in the ER at the same time Elliott was there.

As Elliott digs deeper into the mystery of John, he stumbles on a body hidden behind a wall for 80 years, meets a sexy artist who could become more than just a one-night stand, and uncovers a deadly secret that has haunted a nun for two decades.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to listen to the voice in your head no matter how strange it may be.

The pacing was perfect for the subject matter. This is the sort of thing that’s meant to be savoured slowly, and I had plenty of opportunities to do exactly that. There was always plenty of time to adjust to a new clue before the next one was shared with the audience. I relished having so many chances to figure out what was really going on as I was reading.

This is a very minor criticism, but it would have been nice to have a few more clues about when this story took place. The dialogue felt completely casual and contemporary, but there were other scenes that reminded me of the 1970s and 1980s due to the fact the characters almost never used modern technology like cell phones or computers. As much as I enjoyed it, I’m still not entirely sure that I picked the right time period for it.

One of my favorite parts of this book was how it handled the paranormal elements of the plot. Was John a real ghost, an odd, lingering effect of Elliott’s head injury, or something else entirely? This question made it impossible for me for me to stop reading, especially once Elliott came up with a fairly decent answer to it and was able to turn his attention to figuring out who John Doe was and why he died.

Speaking of the mystery, it sure kept me on my toes. I wasn’t able to figure out all of it before Elliott did, and that isn’t something that normally happens when I read this genre. The fact that Mr. Grey was able to keep me guessing until the very end is one of the many reasons why I enjoy his work so much.

If you’re in the mood for a smart, slow-burning mystery, look no further than His Name Is John. I can’t recommend this tale highly enough!

Seal Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear


Seal Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (292 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review ed by Xeranthemum

Never be so foolish as to fall for the enemy…

Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews has joined the jaguar-run United Shifter Force to track down a deadly criminal. She’s even willing to work with PI Vaughn Greystroke―until the hot, growly SEAL wolf makes the mistake of getting in her way. Naturally, she shoots him. Who could blame her?

Vaughn Greystroke has always worked alone. But when a string of attempted murders puts him in the crosshairs, teaming up with the Shifter Force begins to sound like a good idea. Even if he has to work with alluring―and potentially treacherous―Jillian Matthews. Vaughn is a trained SEAL, after all. He can surely keep his distance from Jillian…no matter how much she’s getting under his skin.

Unraveling a mystery always makes for a great plot. It’s how an author weaves the story that creates an experience to remember and Ms. Spear found a unique hook that I totally could get into.

When Jillian shot the hero, Vaughn, not only was it totally unexpected but once he figures out just who shot him, the sparks start to fly. What I found fascinating is there were so many people shooting at one time or another, I could never figure out who was the criminal. Who really was against whom and just who were the bad guys and where’d they come from and why in the world were they in this little town anyway? Then to find out not only who they were but WHAT they were just sucked me into the adventure. There was so much to find out in this novel that it was easy to keep flipping the pages into the wee hours of the morning.

Imagine my surprise when I found some of the characters were channeling Mel Fisher in their pursuits. That was another treat for me because I love stories like that. It’s a lure that many people would find hard to resist.

There are a lot of smiles throughout the story every time Jillian and Vaughn are together. Their dialogue was fun, snappy and gave me insight into their personalities. Then of course there is the romance which completely worked for me. I liked the heat and how it evolved their relationship towards the next step. In fact the author used a lot of scent references to engage a reader’s senses. There’s a lot of sensual imagery as well to keep readers who like the hot stuff very happy.

Ms. Spear delivered some action packed scenes that were well written, suspenseful and very believable. I mean, once I got to the part when the motivation was revealed, it was so human. This might be a paranormal romance story but the people are just like every other human you read about – including the criminals. This was a very down to earth kind of plot conflict and it worked, probably because one of the villains was so understated for most of the book. What a surprise!

Seal Wolf Undercover is an action story about people with motivations like folks that might live next door to you, except they go furry. Some of their problems are unique to being shifters but the way Ms. Spear writes about her characters never seem farfetched. Being able to relate to a hero and heroine’s emotions and cheer for them as they overcome challenges as they fall in love is one of the best things about this author’s books. Her characters get me every time. This was really fun read and a solid recommend to other paranormal romantic suspense readers.

Silent Justice by Kallie Lane


Silent Justice by Kallie Lane
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (172 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

When Rena O’Mally is kidnapped by a violent underworld kingpin, she enters a world where her only means of escape is in her sleep. She knows her chances of survival and returning to the man she has fallen for are slim to none.

Blue Falcone, commanding officer of an elite taskforce, races against time to find her. Taken on his watch, Rena means more to him than a woman in jeopardy should, and it scares him senseless. Worse than that, when she manages to escape, her enemy keeps coming after her.

Blue wants her in protective custody and out of harm’s way, but Rena has other ideas. She plans to bait the trap to catch this madman. As Rena’s life spins out of control, she and Blue face each challenge together. Will love give them the strength to defy the odds, or will they lose each other in the fray?

For a story that is only one hundred and seventy two pages it sure did pack a punch. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time flipping pages. If my fingernails weren’t cut short I probably would have chewed them from all the never ending suspense. If you’re looking for a quick romance story filled with action then this will meet your needs.

Rena O’Mally, the heroine, was dealt an unfortunate deck of cards at life at a young age and made some choices that directed the course of her life. Caught up in a change of events that appeared out of her control she finally decides enough is enough and no longer wants to be defined by her past. I could feel the attempt of the writer to redeem Rena and make her appear as a strong leading lady. However, Rena was a delicate balance of vulnerable and strong-will qualities that, when mixed together, made her character more than tolerable but not completely admirable in my eyes. I just wished she had turned on her listening ears when she was told to listen. Her lack of listening skills was most annoying.

There could have been other ways to add to the suspense element other than the heroine needing to be constantly rescued due to her in ability to follow directions. It was borderline unrealistic. The plot was not original no matter how many twists were implemented but it was still an entertaining read.

The hero, Blue Falcone, was your stereotypical commanding officer of an elite taskforce who develops feelings for the woman he’s supposed to keep watch over. He had all the connections necessary to call in for back up to save the day no matter how many times he needed to save the day. His team members were briefly introduced but weren’t well defined characters. I developed a stronger connection to Rena’s rescued cat, Tigz.

I did feel the connection between Rena and Blue. I always fall for that damsel in distress ploy, which is why I could tolerate Rena’s inability to listen. The pickles she got herself into allowed me to enjoy feeling those swoon-worthy moments of ‘Ooh! and Ahh!” because they showcased Blue’s amazing heroism.

The violent underworld kingpin just wasn’t going give up and that plot hook kept me riveted until the end. I had to see how Blue Falcone was finally going to save the day, once and for all. Just like the synopsis alluded to, will Rena and Blue’s love for one another give them the strength to defy the odds? Or, will they lose each other in the fray? You’ll need to read the story to find out.

As much as Blue was always racing against time, I wanted the time to slow down and the book to not end. I was content with the ending and pleased with the closure that was provided. I didn’t consider this book a waste of my time and would recommend it to others. This is another one of those books for which I didn’t need my morning coffee to wake up. 🙂

An Unwilling Suspect by Jo A. Hiestand


An Unwilling Suspect by Jo A. Hiestand
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (155 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Rose

McLaren’s fiancée tragically died one month ago. Trying to heal emotionally from her death, McLaren settles into a rented farmhouse in the woods near picturesque Lake Windermere, in Cumbria. But he’s barely had a chance to rest when Helen, the woman in the neighboring cottage, is killed…and is discovered near his front door.

Because McLaren had spent much of the previous day with her, and his snowy footprints lead to and from her house, he becomes the prime murder suspect in what the police label a frustrated romantic advance.

Motives for Helen’s murder are as chilling as the outdoor temperature. There’s the hands-on garage mechanic who’d like to put his hands all over her, the affluent fishing guide, and Helen’s former boyfriend who wanted to renew the relationship.

Can McLaren find the killer before the police jail him for murder?

This is the 7th book in the McLaren mystery series, and they just keep getting better and more intense. This volume begins with McLaren mourning the death of his fiancée—and his friends are worried about him. He is offered a place of refuge where he can deal with Dena’s death (and where there aren’t so many memories). What is supposed to be a quiet, restful time, however, turns out to be anything but when a neighbor he had helped gets murdered, and the clues point squarely at McLaren.

McLaren is at his best when he’s solving a problem, and here he has a doozy of one! Having once been a policeman, he knows how to deal with the locals when they come by, and he, along with his friend Jamie, sift through what they know and what they can learn in order to find out who killed Helen and who is trying to frame (and possibly kill) McLaren himself.

Ms. Hiestand does a wonderful job with the emotional and physical aspects of grief—I could feel the pain McLaren was going through. Her descriptions of the area as well are so well-drawn that I could picture myself right there.

If you’ve not tried the McLaren mysteries before, don’t hesitate to pick this one up. Even though it is part of a series, I don’t think a new reader would have any trouble getting involved in the book. 4 stars, Ms. Hiestand, and good job.