The Love of My Other Life by C.J. Connolly

The Love of My Other Life by C.J. Connolly
Publisher: Joffe Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Imagine you woke up with the perfect life . . . But it wasn’t yours.

Today is Josie’s 36th birthday.

Josie is a single British woman living in a tiny walk-up in Brooklyn. She misses her family, but her radio show is starting to go places. And sure, she could be a dress size smaller, but no one cares what you look like on the radio. The guy she’s had a crush on for months is finally going to break up with his girlfriend. She hopes.

She’s zipping through traffic on her way to meet her friends for dinner at a SoHo restaurant. There’s a screech of brakes, Josie crashes her bike and her world goes black.

Then something extraordinary happens.

She wakes up in hospital. The handsome stranger by her side, holding her hand and telling her he loves her, is Rob. Her husband of two years. They live in a chic Manhattan penthouse. She works in real estate. And she’s thirty pounds slimmer than when she got on her bike that morning.

Josie has no idea how she got here. This new life is everything she ever wanted. But there’s one very important thing missing . . .

And now she has to decide: should she go back to her old single life in Brooklyn or stay with the love of her nearly perfect new life?

What would you do?

What if you found yourself in a great situation suddenly, but the world around you wasn’t the one you had always known? Josie, turning 36, suffers a bike accident and wakes up to discover that her “husband” was a stranger. Also, she’s now suddenly wealthy.

This is a parallel universe type of story where two “Josie’s” live each other’s lives. They trade places. Both of their lives have advantages. Josie #1 (Me) and Josie #2 (Her) see benefits in staying in their new worlds. For example, Josie #2 now has her brother back. He never died in this world. She gets to enjoy seeing him fall in love and start a family.

Josie #1 is now living in luxury with a gorgeous man who loves her. However, both women will have to sacrifice something important to stay where they are. Interesting questions come up. They end up falling for each other’s men. Is it cheating when they get involved with them? Would it be worth going back to their rightful worlds?

Things escalate as the stakes get higher. Characters are developed well enough to differentiate and make a difference to the plot. Two sides of Josie come out, and the people around them have realistic reactions to them. Their worlds are described well enough to give readers a real feel for them.

This book is good escapist reading. Recommended.

Crime On The Fens by Joy Ellis

Crime On The Fens by Joy Ellis
Publisher: Joffe Books, London
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern


THE DETECTIVE DI Nikki Galena: A police detective with nothing left to lose, she’s seen a girl die in her arms, and her daughter will never leave the hospital again. She’s got tough on the criminals she believes did this to her. Too tough. And now she’s been given one final warning: make it work with her new sergeant, DS Joseph Easter, or she’s out.

HER PARTNER DS Joseph Easter is the handsome squeaky-clean new member of the team. But his nickname “Holy Joe” belies his former life as a soldier. He has an estranged daughter who blames him for everything that went wrong with their family.

THEIR ADVERSARY is a ruthless man who holds DI Galena responsible for his terrible disfigurement.

The town is being terrorised by gangs of violent thugs, all wearing identical hideous masks. Then a talented young female student goes missing on the marsh and Nikki and Joseph find themselves joining forces with a master criminal in their efforts to save her. They need to look behind the masks, but when they do, they find something more sinister and deadly than they ever expected . . .

DI Nikki Galena has finally pushed her vendetta against the drug pushers a few steps too far and her boss is given no choice but to issue an ultimatum – work with a new partner, squeaky clean DS Joseph Easter aka “Holy Joe” – or be removed from the police force. Nikki has lost everything, her husband, her daughter, any semblance of a life or friends. All she has left is her work and the burning passion to rid the streets of drugs. Nikki and Joe all too soon are forced to make some tough decisions – can they find a way to work together despite their polar opposite views on how to do their duty?

I found this to be a really different but interesting first book in the series. While having a new police partner pairing that have such wildly different approaches to their work isn’t really that unusual at all, I was quite pleased that it was the female partner – Nikki – that was so off the rails and overly aggressive. I thought that was a refreshing change and while Nikki’s character felt a bit too over the top for me, personally, the author kept the strength and aggression consistent throughout most of the book for Nikki.

My main issue was Nikki’s character seemed just too abrasive and unsympathetic. A strong and jaded female police inspector I can totally understand and relate to – but frequently I felt Nikki stepped over the line into being rude and antagonistic to witnesses, coworkers and others. For example, I was really surprised that when questioning a witness Nikki immediately pushed hard, alienating and upsetting the witness and even borderline bullying them when her harsh manner had the witness not wanting to share information. For more than half of the book I really struggled to even like Nikki’s character, let alone feel sympathy for her or want to cheer her on. I also felt these actions of hers were pretty unrealistic. While I could understand there’d be leeway for an inspector with a massive “closed case” number in how physical and over the line they were when it came to arresting criminals and drug dealers, I really couldn’t see the police upper management letting Nikki’s bullying and antagonism slide when it came to innocent witnesses and members of the public. That just didn’t feel realistic to me and it certainly didn’t help me feel like Nikki was a heroine in the usual sense.

I completely understand why Joe’s character was brought into the story fairly early on. While his dedication in arresting the bad guy and saving the victims were just as strong and intense as Nikki’s, his means and manner in reaching that objective was far more palatable. His character was an excellent contrast to Nikki’s and while I understood their enforced partnership finally began to build ties between them both, I really did enjoy watching Joe navigate the various hardships of dealing with a largely uncooperative partner in Nikki and settling down in the new police station and find his way.

Aside from Joe’s character, the other main saving grace of this story to me was how interesting and enjoyable I found the two main plotlines of the story. There’s a smaller plot surrounding some mysterious rubber masks being delivered around the township to egg on various youths into committing petty crimes – which I found both unique and highly creative – but also the more serious case of a murdered young lady out on the Fens. Both mysteries were gripping and interesting and while I really struggled with Nikki’s character, even that edge helped make the story as a whole feel fresh and gripping to me.

While I feel sections of this story really won’t appeal to all readers, the strength of the two plots, the conflict and clashing of Nikki’s abrasive personality and the contrast with Joe’s as the two officers forge a new partnership all added up into an interesting, intense and pretty creative story that I found well worth reading.

Body in the Box by E R Fallon

Body in the Box by E R Fallon
Publisher: Joffe Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (227 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy


New York Times bestselling author Da Chen has said E.R. Fallon writes the kind of stories that “. . . we stay up all night to finish.”

Who dumped the boy’s body in this desolate part of the city and why? And why is he missing his spleen?

BODY IN THE BOX is the first book in a gripping new mystery series featuring three very different homicide detectives.
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Detectives Dino Cooper and Terry Jackson have been partners and friends for years. Now a new detective is drafted in to join them: Rebecca Everhart. They must quickly learn to work together on the biggest case of their careers, the disturbing discovery of the ‘Body in the Box’, as it’s known by the captivated media and the city’s worried citizens.

The case takes the three detectives deep inside the lives of Newark’s insular Eastern European immigrant community and the world of unlawful medical practices. It also brings back an eerie childhood memory of Dino’s, where a boy from his neighborhood vanished and was never seen again.

What appears to be a straightforward, modern-day murder case has more to do with the past than the present, and the detectives come to a genuinely unnerving — and life-threatening — conclusion.

There’s a young boy in a big cardboard box in the end of town where the homeless live. He’s dead, he has nothing to identify him with except his teeth. He also happens to be missing his spleen…

This is a police procedural that leads the detectives into a worm hole of the poor and indigent and Russian illegals. The boy they found was not currently missing. The homeless didn’t see anything or won’t talk about it if they did. They begin looking for a child who could have been injured enough to lose his spleen. What they find takes them to the Russians. It’s a good thing the new female detective can speak some Russian or they’d have had to find a translator. Again, no one wants to talk to them. When they find out who the child is, he’s been missing for two years. Where has he been?

The pace is steady, the mystery keeps twisting around and you keep turning the pages to see what new clue will show up. This case relates to an old unsolved one but no one will know that until the end.

The description of the Russians and how they lived and the places the homeless lived was depressing. It’s especially sad how the boy ended up where he did. Sometimes life is not kind.

Watching the police work, wondering about the killer, and rooting for the team of detectives came naturally. There are romantic problems just to keep your interest. The story already had mine.

Here’s an unusual mystery with even more unusual motive. If you like mysteries, you need to read this one.