September Sci-Fi/Fantasy or Mystery/Suspense Book of the Month Poll Winners ~ Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale AND Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell

We have a tie for this month’s poll!!


Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

And…


Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

September Non-Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy by David A. Hill Jr.


iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy by David A. Hill Jr.
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal, Horror
Length: Full Length (269 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

It’s like Uber, but for slaying monsters!

Lana is a monster hunter. She kills vampires, werewolves, demons and all the other terrifying creatures of the night. She doesn’t do it because she’s the chosen one. She doesn’t do it because it’s her duty. She does it because working one job just doesn’t cut it for a millenial in Southern California.

She takes contracts using iHunt, an app which freelance monster hunters use to find profitable prey. It’s like Supernatural meets Uber, Buffy meets Airbnb, and sadly, Blade meets Fiverr.

Lana’s story is about making ends meet, about economic anxiety, and about what a person’s willing to do to pay the bills. It’s a equal parts horror, dark humor, slice of life, and social commentary on the gig economy.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

September Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Rock My Body by Lee Piper


Rock My Body by Lee Piper
A Mondez Novel 2
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Length: Full Length (256 pgs)
Genre: Contemporary
Other: M/F
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Bittersweet

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Twenty-two year old Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it’s with a guy who is long-term boyfriend material. She’s not crazy, her psychologist reassures her of that, but when faced with situations she cannot control, well, her anxiety skyrockets.

Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest creature ever to grace pecs and abs. The notorious playboy propositions Riley with the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple.

No. Way. In. Hell.

Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits is far from simple, especially since Dominic is the lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. He is also tempestuous, a womanizer, and—even worse—inexplicably jealous. Dominic is bad for Riley in every possible way. Bad, bad, bad.

If only her body would listen.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Rock My Body by Lee Piper


Rock My Body by Lee Piper
A Mondez Novel 2
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Length: Full Length (256 pgs)
Genre: Contemporary
Other: M/F
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Bittersweet

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Twenty-two year old Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it’s with a guy who is long-term boyfriend material. She’s not crazy, her psychologist reassures her of that, but when faced with situations she cannot control, well, her anxiety skyrockets.

Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest creature ever to grace pecs and abs. The notorious playboy propositions Riley with the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple.

No. Way. In. Hell.

Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits is far from simple, especially since Dominic is the lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. He is also tempestuous, a womanizer, and—even worse—inexplicably jealous. Dominic is bad for Riley in every possible way. Bad, bad, bad.

If only her body would listen.

Rock my body (A Mendez novel) by Lee Piper is a must read. It’s as easy as that. I finished the book last night after two days of binge reading and I’m in love. First with Dominic, then with Riley and with everything that has to do with this book.

Granted, I’m not a fan of first person point of view, but Lee Piper surprised me. She has mastered the art and I was drawn into the book and into Riley’s character from page one. I immediately connected with her. Her anguish, happiness, love, lust, I could feel all of it in my own bones.

The chemistry between the characters is insane and Ms. Piper knows how to draw it out. To say I squirmed a few times is an understatement.

But there is more. Though there is obviously a strong sexual connection between the characters, we see so much more. They are characters with flaws, good things and bad, tragic stories, which made my heart ache.

This is the kind of book that once finished made me crave for more. I’ll be reading Levi’s story next (although apparently I should have done that first) and can’t wait for the rest of the series to be released.

Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell


Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.

I don’t know where to start on my review for this book. The author’s writing style captured me from the very start of the novel. This is a well written book that includes a wondrously structured plot of suspense. I couldn’t help but feel for Elsie as she opened up revealing various pains that all seem to have generated from the soiled relationship with her mother. Elsie has made the best of her life, but with the recent death of her mother, Rachel, old wounds start to open up and Elsie is challenged to face not only her demons but also her mother’s.

Elsie is a strong young lady who, even though she lacked her mother’s love and approval, still seemed to get through life. No, she wasn’t perfect and she had her faults but I guess that’s what made her so easy to connect with. She was a teen performance dancer, she dealt with being anorexic, she loses her best friend but gains the lead dance role. Any mother would be proud to have a daughter with such a successful early career. That’s one thing, even after finishing the novel I still didn’t understand why Elsie’s mother treated her like she did. She was her mother’s only child and yet in a way Elsie was motherless. Elsie’s self-pity is so strong that she’d rather be alone in the world; pushing away the one man that loves her beyond measure.

Elsie’s ex-husband Ted is her stronghold and voice of reason. I enjoyed reading their story. I was sad to read that Elsie’s willingness to give up and free Ted, but I was glad and found it touching that Ted’s love continued during the bad. I was glad Ted is true and consistent in Elsie’s life and that even though they are divorced he still took time to answer her calls and to help her when he could.

I enjoyed the writing style and the voice of Elsie as she looked for answers in finding herself and along the way making sense to find answers to her life. Her mother’s death didn’t necessarily mean an end, but it seemed to give Elsie strength and purpose. As I mentioned earlier, I still didn’t understand Elsie’s mother’s reasons for her actions and way of mothering. The many years that her mom had ties with the Seekers was strange to me. This part of the story is different and I tried thinking of some other reason that could put a wedge between a mother and a daughter; I guess Rachel’s deep involvement with the Seekers is good enough reason for a wedge. Reading about a cult-like religion is something new to me and it worked for this story.

I highly recommend this story for readers who enjoy going deep into a character’s emotional life where their story remains long after the you’ve turned the last page.

Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale


Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

This story is the sequel to Everything We Keep and I’m glad the author chose to write Aimee and James’ story from his perspective because I’d been fascinated to know what really happened to him.

All is answered in this book. James is now Carlos, a widower with two boys and living in Mexico. As the story unfolds…it’s told in both the present and past as we learn what happened and how he ended up in a fugue state.

Aimee is now married with a child and I thought perhaps the story would focus on their reconnecting but instead it takes different course and the suspense deepens when his brother is released from prison. He was the catalyst for the drama surrounding James’ disappearance and in this book; he’s trouble with a capital T.

I thought this had more of a page turning quality to it than the first one and found myself reading more as I got farther into the book. It’s got a ticking clock quality to it and I found the characters really compelling

I obviously won’t give away the ending but let’s just say these two books have turned me into a die-hard fan of Ms. Lonsdale.

I strongly suggested reading the books in order to appreciate the sweeping and suspenseful story line.

August Mystery/Suspense Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Rose in the Wheel by S.K. Rizzolo


The Rose in the Wheel by S.K. Rizzolo
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (310 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.

Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?

Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Barrister Edward Buckler, drawn despite himself to Penelope, shakes off his habitual lethargy to join the investigation.

As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

August Non-Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais


Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais
Bad Boy Inc., #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A killer with a white picket fence.

Suburbia, a great place for a man with secrets to hide–while investing in some solid real estate. The biggest drawback?

Neighbors.

In this case, a neighbor with sexy curves and a bright smile. Good thing she’s not his type. Single moms with annoying exes are on the do-not-date list.

Stay away.

Calvin wants to; it’s just not happening. He can’t help but find himself drawn to the chaos next door. And when danger threatens his suburban lifestyle, this assassin doesn’t hesitate to act.

Killing people is easy. Domestication, on the other hand, terrifies him.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais


Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais
Bad Boy Inc., #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A killer with a white picket fence.

Suburbia, a great place for a man with secrets to hide–while investing in some solid real estate. The biggest drawback?

Neighbors.

In this case, a neighbor with sexy curves and a bright smile. Good thing she’s not his type. Single moms with annoying exes are on the do-not-date list.

Stay away.

Calvin wants to; it’s just not happening. He can’t help but find himself drawn to the chaos next door. And when danger threatens his suburban lifestyle, this assassin doesn’t hesitate to act.

Killing people is easy. Domestication, on the other hand, terrifies him.

Talk about romancing the gray area where the good guys are bad guys being good by being bad. This is a very interesting concept that Ms. Langlais is exploring in this first novel of her new series and I had a ball reading it. Some authors have a challenging time world-building in the first book of a series while telling a romance story and introducing a bunch of characters that are important or will become important in future books all at the same time. Not so for Ms. Langlais. This was one of the smoothest reveal and entry into a series I’ve read in a while. It felt so natural.

It’s told in third person POV from both Lily’s and Calvin’s perspectives. The author efficiently used the right descriptions of emotions, action, and environments to engage a reader. I could understand Lily’s terror and feelings of being trapped. Calvin is a different story as he’s a man without much feeling, or, at least he wasn’t until he clapped eyes on Lily’s daughter, Zoe. I think her innocence, her instant trust, her smiling nature and bubbly personality simply bowled Calvin over. In a word, Zoe is adorable, and the hero found her impossible to resist. He tried being gruff, grouchy and tough and he said things that initially convinced Lily that was not a nice neighbor, but a reader sees it from his POV – it’s bluster and smoke. I enjoyed watching the hero’s initial discomfort morph into a protective zeal.

Lily’s external conflict comes in the form of her ex-husband, Brock. The conflict for Calvin is mostly internal until Lily’s conflict twists and turns to bisect the hero’s external conflict and they’re both drawn into a situation that is bigger than either of them realize, until it was almost too late. There’s where the suspense and mystery come in to play. The action stems from all the daring-do that Calvin’s role demands of him. At first his involvement is duty, and then it becomes personal. That gradual switch made for some very intense reading.

My frown comes from the heroine doing something stupid, twice. Yes, the author made her own up to it because being in Lily’s head, so to speak, I could understand her choices. They were rash and necessary to stirring the plot pot but still stupid. My very big grin came from the author throwing in little digs and references to another series the author is famous for. I admit to giggling out loud in a very unladylike fashion because I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

The interesting thing about Calvin is his line of work – his view on what he does for a living, how he does it and why. It’s the how that is freaky. The author almost makes it causal, la-ti-da and normal when it’s anything but. After what Lily has gone through, her character is ripe for accepting a man like Calvin. The author alludes to it enough times to make that clear.

When Lily and Calvin get more than ‘neighborly’, it’s detailed, hot and sexy. There is no doubt that they are physically compatible.

The final conflict is a doozy. It has drama, suspense, action and the body count keeps going up. With the satisfactory resolving of the immediate mystery in Assassin Next Door Ms. Langlais left one little plot thread dangling which I believe is, or will be, the background story arc. One thing is for sure, the author has effectively garnered my commitment to reading the next book in the series. This is getting good.

Assassin Next Door is full of exciting chills and thrills, grins and gasps and is a delight through and through. This romantic suspense book is an easy recommend because it kept me guessing, entertained and engaged. I enjoyed watching Lily and Calvin come together as an unconventional couple and how the author handled having a young child in the mix. It’s a well written adventure and I can’t wait to visit the folks at Bad Boy Inc. to see what they get up to next.

The Rose in the Wheel by S.K. Rizzolo


The Rose in the Wheel by S.K. Rizzolo
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (310 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.

Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?

Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Barrister Edward Buckler, drawn despite himself to Penelope, shakes off his habitual lethargy to join the investigation.

As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

I absolutely LOVE English mysteries– movies, books, TV shows — you name it, I’m willing to give it a shot. So when thihs book became available to review, I jumped at it, and I’m so very glad I did.

With it being a debut novel, I was prepared for a few issues and, with it also being the first book in a series, there was the very good chance that it might be a little slow in places as the author introduces her characters. What a surprise when none of those expectations came to pass. The book kept me intrigued to the point where anytime I had a few minutes, I picked my reader up to read another few pages.

The characters are wonderfully drawn, and I really enjoyed the chemistry between them. I’m looking forward to reading more and seeing how their relationships grow in future books. One of my very favorites is Penelope’s daughter, Sarah. Children are sometimes hard to capture, but she is just adorable.

The pacing moved right along without feeling rushed, and the mystery itself was very neatly solved with true detection and “putting the puzzle together-ness” that was refreshing. Often a mystery will be solved through a series of coincidences and pure luck, and it’s not the case here. All the clues are there for the reader to see, and this reader was surprised at the culprit. Always the mark of a good mystery, in my book.

I would love to see this series wind up on BBC (are you listening?)… it’s that good.

I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, and I can wait to jump back in the world of Chase, Wolfe, and Buckler. Kudos, Ms. Rizzolo– you are now on my auto-buy list, so I hope you have many more books in store for us.