Stonebridge by Linda Griffin

Stonebridge by Linda Griffin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance, Paranormal, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

After the death of her mother, Rynna Dalton comes to live with her imperious great-grandmother and her bookish, disabled cousin Ted at Stonebridge Manor. Almost immediately she is aware of a mysterious presence, which she believes is the spirit of her mother’s murdered cousin, Rosalind. Rynna is charmed by Rosalind’s lawyer son Jason Wyatt, who courts her, and she agrees to marry him. Meanwhile, Ted and Rynna become good friends.

But Stonebridge holds secrets that will profoundly affect her future. Why is Ted so opposed to the match? Why does Rosalind seem to warn Rynna against it? And how far will Jason go to possess Stonebridge—and the woman he professes to love?

Family is forever.

Ms. Griffin had a smooth writing style that makes reading her stories a delight. She seemed to know exactly when vivid details were required and when it was better to allow the audience to imagine certain moments for themselves. That is not an easy thing to balance, but it’s one of the reasons why I try to request as many of the books she submits to Long and Short Reviews as I possibly can. Whatever else may happen with the plot, I know that I’m always going to want to read just one more page of the polished stories she writes.

I would have liked to see more character development, especially when it came to Rynna. She had a habit of making rash decisions and not listening to the people around her who had serious concerns about her life choices. While this flaw definitely made her interesting to read about, I also wondered why she behaved that way and why she was so stubborn at the worst possible moments. If only that had been better explained, but this is a minor criticism of a tale I otherwise found enjoyable.

It was amusing to see how the author mixed the romance, mystery, and paranormal genres together. The plot weaved its way among all three of them. While more attention was paid to the first two, the third one popped up in some creative ways as well that other readers should discover for themselves so that I don’t spoil anything for them. There is definitely something to be said for blending so many different types of storytelling together, especially when they all bring out important aspects of the plot that might have otherwise not had a chance to shine.

Stonebridge was a memorable and exciting read.

A Christmas Wish for Love by Mariah Lynne

A Christmas Wish for Love by Mariah Lynne
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Genre: Romance, Holiday, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Have you ever had a holiday cookie that came with a set of instructions? You’re about to.

In this sweet, heart-warming holiday romance, a precocious twelve-year-old named Luci, short for Lucia, never met her mom because she died giving birth. Her dad, a Florida Gulf Coast Island veterinarian, loved his late wife so much that he does not date or look at any other woman even though women are attracted to him. He still wears his wedding ring and, every Saturday night, shares a box of her mom’s memories, hoping to keep her alive in Luci’s heart.

Luci’s elderly Swedish next-door neighbor Meta loves Luci like an adopted granddaughter. When Luci’s dad gets called in for an emergency on her birthday which happens to be Saint Lucia’s Day, Luci and her dog Chester visit Meta.

Meta gives Luci a surprise birthday gift as she leaves to take home and open later with her dad. Then the holiday magic begins.

A CHRISTMAS WISH FOR LOVE is an enchanting and inspiring story you will want to share with others!

Anything is possible during Christmas time.

This was a unique spin on the romance genre. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance novel written from the perspective of a child whose father is falling in love before. Kids don’t always understand these things the same way adults do, so I smiled when Luci explained what was happening and occasionally gave creative reasons for why the grownups in her life were behaving the way that they did.

There were some inconsistent details in this story that I found confusing. For example, Luci was described as a twelve-year-old girl in some scenes and a thirteen-year-old girl in others. Her character was written in a way that either one could have easily been true, but I did wish that the narrator had been clearer about her age. Her mother’s name was also spelled in two different ways later on in the plot. Another round of editing would have fixed these things and made it possible for me to choose a higher rating.

I loved the strong, caring community that these characters lived in. Being a single parent isn’t easy, especially after such tragic circumstances that surrounded Luci’s birth, but Kyle was lucky enough to have plenty of friends and neighbors around who could help him give his child everything she needed other than a mother figure. Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that showed how everyone stepped up to give this little family extra love and attention. They brought a tear to my eye because of how sweet they were.

A Christmas Wish for Love was a gentle holiday romance.

The Skull by Jon Klassen

The Skull by Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Holiday, Paranormal, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Jon Klassen’s signature wry humor takes a turn for the ghostly in this thrilling retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale. In a big abandoned house, on a barren hill, lives a skull. A brave girl named Otilla has escaped from terrible danger and run away, and when she finds herself lost in the dark forest, the lonely house beckons. Her host, the skull, is afraid of something too, something that comes every night. Can brave Otilla save them both? Steeped in shadows and threaded with subtle wit—with rich, monochromatic artwork and an illuminating author’s note—The Skull is as empowering as it is mysterious and foreboding.

Would you spend the night in a haunted house?

Otilla was a brave girl who I quickly grew to like. She was kind and sweet even when she was afraid. That’s not always an easy thing to accomplish, so it made me more curious to learn about where she came from and why she was running away from something that frightened her in the first scene. The more I learned about her, the more I wanted to know.

Some of the scenes in this picture book were pretty intense, especially since this was rated for ages 4 and older. I would be hesitant to read this with younger kids without first figuring out how much horror they can handle. Certainly some of them would love it, but I also felt that the talking skull’s biggest fear in life was much darker than what is typically written for preschoolers and elementary-aged readers.

Otilla’s friendship with the skull was sweet. Both of them had pasts they didn’t want to talk about and seemed to find difficult. It was rewarding to watch them figure out they had this in common and decide they were going to protect each other. Few things are better than having a friend who behaves so loyally!

I would have loved to see more character and plot development. The eerie setting had a nice Halloween vibe, but there weren’t a lot of explanations about who the skull was when it was alive and still had the rest of its body or how they were connected to the grand old mansion that was now slowly falling apart. As an adult, I was able to make certain assumptions about what the author might have meant based on subtle context clues, but I don’t think a lot of kids would necessarily pick up on enough of them to make sense of everything without help.

With that being said, I did enjoy the scenes that explained what the skull could and couldn’t do. For example, it could taste tea, but it could not keep tea inside of its mouth because it didn’t have a body or a stomach to digest it. There were multiple examples like this, and each one made me smile as I added more details to my mental file of what this character’s abilities and limitations were.

The Skull was a spooky Halloween read.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant, junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog, their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

When PC Peter Grant is contacted by a friend in the Transit Police about people being harassed on the Metropolitan line in the subway, he’s curious but doesn’t think too much of it. After a bit of investigation, he discovers that there absolutely are a various number of ghosts, all with a purpose, on the early morning commuter trains. With Abigail lending a hand, and Nightingale as back up can Peter decipher their message and unravel everything before things get critical.

I really enjoyed this short story and was exceptionally pleased that despite it’s shorter length there is a quite solid and intricate plotline and a few of our favourite characters front and center. I was particularly pleased with the movement and maturing of Abigail’s character and plot arc, I’m thinking there are definitely much bigger things in her near future. I also really enjoyed seeing Peter doing what he does best and it was a pleasure as always to see Nightingale in action.

Readers who enjoy a strong element of magic and paranormal rolled along in with their mysteries should find this an excellent book – and a great series as a whole – I’d happily pick up this shorter book as a brief introduction to the magical world Aaronovitch has created. This is a great, shorter taste of his writing style and the series, but readers who do enjoy this should go back to the beginning and enjoy the story from the start. I don’t feel readers who start here should be too confused though it’s quite clear there are a number of books preceding this one and why miss all the fun?

A quick read and loads of fun with a strong mystery and some exceptional magic and paranormal beings, this is a good time and I recommend it.

Deadweight by Paul Forster

Deadweight by Paul Forster
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

It was hailed as the answer to the obesity epidemic; a pill that allows you to eat anything you like and still lose weight. Millions were attracted by the promise of a leaner, fitter body, but there was a fatal and unforeseen flaw in this new panacea. A tiny microbe, lurking within, slowly infects the users. In turn they pass the infection to others with a sneeze, a cough or a simple kiss, and before long tens of millions are infected and turned into mindless, shambling wrecks, with the sole purpose of existing to eat. The virus is rampant, reaching into every corner of the globe. Governments collapse and shut down, unable to contain the outbreak, while the army works hard against the unending assault in a desperate bid to stop the dead from total victory. But there are even greater dangers to be faced. A few unfortunate souls suffer with the hunger of the dead but the mind of the living. They are neither dead nor alive, but something in between; something far more dangerous to the surviving humans. And amidst this carnage of the end of the world, in the south east of England, a small group of survivors are fighting on, against all the odds, as they try to stay one step in front of the dead, trying to avoid being the next item on the menu. The question is, in a world now claimed by the dead, what will they have to do to survive?

When a new weight-loss pill comes onto the market no one thinks too much of it. Obesity is a global epidemic and millions of people are looking for a quick pill to make themselves thinner. And this pill becomes extremely popular as it proves to work perfectly in everyone – millions all over the world are quickly losing weight no matter what they eat. But no one knows that the microbe that’s being used in this
pill quickly becomes infectious through a cough, a sneeze, and soon the whole world becomes infected.

I found this to be a really well written and scarily believable book. I think some readers mightn’t like how a lot of the start of this book flips between the present – after the zombies are out there – and how the research and science behind the pills was discovered and let loose. I personally didn’t mind this jumping back and forth because I feel the author has done an amazing job in thinking through the background of the pill and making a really interesting, logical and believable plotline behind it. I felt this really set up the story as a whole and it was such a different spin on the whole “zombie apocalypse” thing that I really enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed how the past and present came together and then merged into the rest of the story. Readers who enjoy longer running series like Walking Dead and Last Of Us should find that this book really fills a gap that these series can leave behind. I found the main characters relatable and interestingly drawn and most importantly for me I found the plot to be gripping and interesting. There are a few sex scenes in this book and while there is some gore it’s kept to a fairly low level to my mind and neither overtakes the story. I would mainly declare this an intricately plotted zombie apocalypse style of book with a fair bit of action and a really good plotline.

Readers looking for an interesting and freshly written zombie-style end of the world book should find this a really good read.

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed.

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive but find unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?

This can be read as a standalone and is the second book in The White Rune Series.

I read the synopsis and thought that it sounded like a good book to read. I started reading it and was transported into the story right away. The story begins with the hero, Vann, having a PTSD nightmare. My father-in-law is a Vietnam war veteran who suffers from PTSD therefore I’m familiar with the hero’s struggles. I can’t imagine what it’s like for Vann or any veteran to adjust to the civilian world with a missing limb from a war casualty. Vann is written as a sweet character that doesn’t feel worthy of finding his happily ever after. Vann actually hides his prosthesis for fear of being judged as an incomplete person.

There is a sentence in the story that shows up a few times that really resonated with me, “If you can’t find a reason to live, then find a reason not to die.” It’s a very powerful statement. Vann is a character that more than deserves to find peace, love and joy.

The heroine, Nakina, certainly didn’t bring solace into Vann’s life when they met. Nakina brought the suspense/mystery elements. Nakina was very lucky that Vann was in town that particular day for them to have that chance encounter. She couldn’t have asked for a better person to run into when Vann approached her. A unique characteristic pertaining to Nakina is her ability to feel and see things. She’s a psychic learning to fine tune her gift. I was intrigued by the rune stone.

Nakina and Vann’s romance journey kept me on the edge of my seat as they both pursued refuge in each other as they ran for their lives from hired killers. I felt their love story evolved at a sensual pace that was heartwarming and uplifting. Nakina and Vann filled each other’s void spots making them complete each other.

I did experience a hiccup that pulled me away from the story. There is a moment where it appears the danger was resolved. I kept thinking that was impossible. I was waiting for the shoe to drop. When I only had a few more pages left I started to relax thinking, well, I guess that was the end of the danger. I felt an anti-climax. Without giving spoilers, let’s just say that the shoe did drop. For me I felt the timing was off. The next page is titled two weeks later and then we have another titled two weeks later that concludes with an epilogue. I should have had a book glow since I love epilogues. Somehow the reality of the situation versus the ending, it didn’t jive with the rest of the story.

Overall, I did enjoy this romance book. I especially loved Vann’s dog, Champion. There is a scene involving Champion that pulled at my heartstrings. As a dog owner I was very concerned during this part of the book. Fortunately this plot thread was written well. I felt the cast of characters were well developed and relatable. I got to know Vann’s neighbors and Nakina’s sister. Everyone played an important role in the narrative.

In conclusion, Jagged Feathers was entertaining. I think we all could benefit from opening our eyes and seeing nature’s natural beauty and feeling the healing of nature when we learn to rest such as Vann and Nakina did. This story brings about solace and hope.

Saltwater Sorrows by Rhonda Parrish (editor)

Saltwater Sorrows by Rhonda Parrish (editor)
Publisher: Tyche Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Romance, Historical, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Deep, mysterious, beautiful . . . dangerous . . .

Women and the sea have been tied together in myth and story from the beginning of time. Tales of women being drawn to the sea or being left on the shore, waiting for their men’s return, have been passed down through the ages.

But what mysteries lie beneath the sparkling placid waters? What power drives the wind and waves crashing against the shore? There is transformation and exaltation—magic—in the ocean and women alike. And both know that while the sea gives, the sea also takes.

Sink into the icy depths of the ocean with these stories by: E.E. King; Natalie Cannon; Morgan Melhuish; Paul A. Hamilton; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Sarah Van Goethem; Adria Laycraft; Dino Parenti; B. Zelkovich; Lisa Carreiro; Lea Storry; Nikoline Kaiser; Elin Olausson; Chandra Fisher; Hayley Stone; V.F. LeSann; Catherine MacLeod; and Jennifer R. Donohue.

Safety isn’t guaranteed, but magic is.

Adelia lost multiple relatives to the sea in “Salt in Our Blood, Salt in Our Tears.” When she grew older, she attempted to figure out a way to keep her loved ones safe while they were on the water. I loved her determination and grit and couldn’t stop reading until I’d learned her fate. She wasn’t a wealthy or powerful woman, so anything she accomplished took every ounce of energy and luck she could scrounge up. This was one of my favorite instalments, and I’d love to read a sequel to it someday if the author ever writes one.

In “The Ghost of Violet Gray,” Arthur was distracted by a mysterious woman while surveying a beach to see how much damage the erosion on it was doing to the historic properties that lined the shore. The descriptions of the beach and the stately old homes that had weathered so many storms were beautiful. I would have happily remained in this tale for much longer, especially once my suspicions about how the plot might turn out began to be confirmed. This was a gorgeous snapshot of how the past can be honored by a community who also must adjust to an ever-changing coastline that can’t safely be used in the same way it was before.

“Glass, Paper, Salt” explored how a small group of strangers reacted to a zombie outbreak. The combination of references to zombies, mermaids, and the sea surprised me, especially once I realized how logically the characters were thinking about their longterm chances of survival now that their world was falling apart. This is one of those stories that works best if new readers walk into it unaware of what is coming. I only mentioned the zombies in this review because of how quickly they appeared in the text, but I will leave the rest of the creative plot twists up for others to discover for themselves. It was yet another excellent addition to this book.

One of the biggest reasons why I gave this anthology a full five-star rating was how beautifully different each tale was from one another. Some of them were heavy, difficult, but deeply meaningful reads, while a few were surprisingly light and airy given the dark theme. I wish I had the time and space to review every single one of them in this review. It was tricky to narrow down my selections to only a few! I’d recommend reading this with an open mind and while making as few assumptions about what might happen next as possible. There were so many gems included here.

Saltwater Sorrows was the perfect snapshot of the ever-changing nature of the sea.

How to Make Friends With a Ghost by Rebecca Green

How to Make Friends With a Ghost by Rebecca Green
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Holiday, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you.

A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

It’s never too early to celebrate Halloween!

The nice thing about this tale was that it felt like Halloween but had a more generic autumn setting. This meant that it could be read in other cool, chilly months – or even not so chilly months – without me feeling like I was a reading something too out of season. There are spooky things to be found all throughout the year, after all, and it encouraged me to see what might make me shudder no matter when I might reread it.

There were some portions that I thought were far too scary for this age group. For example, one scene warned the reader not to eat their pet ghost and showed illustrations of ghosts who had been fried, baked, grilled, and otherwise turned into food. That could have been funny for older kids, but many of the little ones I’ve known would find it terrifying. If only the tone of that scene had remained lighthearted and playful like the rest of it was!

The portions that read like a pet care manual made me grin. Yes, of course there are similarities between taking care of a ghost and a more traditional companion like a rabbit, cat, or dog. This was a clever way to explain how hauntings work in this universe, and it makes me want to see what else the author has written.

I also found myself wondering why anyone would want to lure a ghost into their home in the first place. Most stories are about trying to get rid of the spirits haunting a person or a place, after all! It would have been help for the author to clarify what they were thinking there.

The last few scenes were unusual for this genre. It involved the main character growing old and their ghost reacting to that change. I don’t want to say much else about that to avoid sharing spoilers, but it could be a good jumping off point for discussions about aging and how families take care of each other.

How to Make Friends With a Ghost was creative.

Operation Mongolia by William Meikle

Operation Mongolia by William Meikle
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

It’s supposed to be a routine job, walking a pair of stranded archaeologists out of the Gobi Desert.

But when the rains come unexpectedly, S-Squad’s troubles are only starting.

There is something in the sand, something red and wriggling.

Thirsty for water.

Hungry for flesh.

When Captain Banks and his team of squaddies are told to head over to the Gobi Desert and collect two archaeologists stranded with Chinese Rebels nearby the entire team hopes they will finally have a simple, regular assignment. And all is going well, initially. They meet up with the two boffins, the squad is ready for the long walk out of the desert to their rendezvous point with a helicopter. Everything is all sorted out. Only then the rains hit and something red, wriggling and with plenty of teeth is waiting for them under the sand – and these critters are thirsty.

I absolutely love this series and am eagerly working my way through them all. They are quite short stories – about 130 pages each or so – but filled with oversized, B-grade monsters, the squaddies are believable, utterly ribald and a bunch of laughs, and usually the plot isn’t overly complicated. I find them wonderful escape fiction when work or life is dragging me down a bit. If you want something deeply plotted, or with a complex puzzle then this isn’t the series you’ll want to grab. If you’re in the mood for something lighthearted with plenty of shoot ‘em up style, a few crass and tasteless jokes and banter with a whole bunch of action and big monster sized beasties – this will suit you perfectly.

I do like how a number of the squaddies are now becoming quite familiar. These books can all absolutely be read independently of each other – and in virtually any order – though I did notice there were a few single sentence long Easter Eggs recalling previous adventures in a few places that really made me chuckle. I found personally it really added a nice zing to the story for me, but I absolutely feel readers who find this book by itself should be very happy to crack it open and give it a try having not read anything previously by this author.

A rambunctious and fun read, this was a lovely lazy afternoon I feel was very well spent. Recommended.

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz
Publisher: Jove
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake.…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.

Catalina and Olivia grew up together in a small town called Fogg Lake. Having gone into the private investigator business together the two life-long friends are surprised but happy to find they not only enjoy it but are quite talented at it too. But when Olivia goes missing and Slater Arganbright turns up on her doorstep seeking help and an offer Catalina can’t refuse, their lives suddenly become a whole lot more complicated.

I have been a huge fan of Krentz and her various series for a number of years now. I have always thoroughly enjoyed her romantic suspense series and I was curious when she clearly started this new series (the Fogg Lake trilogy) as a new paranormal romantic suspense. Readers who have enjoyed her Arcane series, or the Harmony based books under her pseudonym Jayne Castle should find this book runs along a similar vein and enjoy it. I could understand though if readers who pick this book up having not read anything previously by Krentz might find that there’s a fair bit of terminology and references that they have to catch up on. Personally, I wouldn’t let coming to this book cold stop me from giving it a try – I strongly feel that Krentz is a superlative writer and she excels at romantic suspense. I absolutely feel this book is well worth a bit of effort in understanding her paranormal powers and world, but I could understand if it might not suit every readers tastes.

While the paranormal aspects to the story are very strongly influential to the plot, I did feel the more usual mystery/suspense (the plotlines of who killed the paranormal artefacts dealer and what happened to/who kidnapped Olivia) are still very well written and gripping each in their own rights. The romance blossoming between Catalina and Slater was very well written and quite steamy in places, but I have to admit I felt for much of the book this took a somewhat back seat to the other more vibrant plotlines going on.

Also understandably since this is the first book in the trilogy there was a bit of world building and scene setting – which I quite enjoyed, but other readers might feel slowed the pace of the plot in the very beginning of the book. Personally I’d have thought not setting the scene properly – explaining who Catalina and Olivia are, what the circumstances of day-to-day life was in Fogg Lake etc would have been highly unusual and likely lessened my enjoyment of the story, but for a modern romantic suspense often a breakneck pace and having the plot be highly action orientated is considered necessary. Additionally, while the main plots of this story are well rounded and fully resolved – there is clearer a larger story arc that encompasses the whole trilogy, so there are still plenty of questions left revolving around this much larger arc.

An exceptional writer, I find Krentz almost never misses the mark and this was yet another excellent story to add to my shelf of hers. Interesting characters, a few gripping plotlines all neatly interwoven and a steamy romance really had me eagerly turning the pages well into the night. A brilliant read and one I can strongly recommend.