Paper Castles by Terri Lee

Paper Castles by Terri Lee

Paper Castles Cover

4.5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Paper Castles by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

In 1963, Georgia Socialite Savannah Palmerton has what looks like the perfect life: a successful husband, two children, and a beautiful house. But looks can be deceiving. Secrets hide behind that perfect façade, secrets that are just waiting to be let into the light. With Savannah’s marriage and family crumbling around her, she must search through the rubble for the woman beneath the garden parties and pretty dresses. She can’t even begin to love anyone else until she learns to love herself.

Paper Castles is an expertly woven tale of lies, betrayal, and murder. I became immediately invested in the life of the main character, and I was hooked to the story right up until the end. The story is set in the midst of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the civil rights movement, and the historical details added a layer of uniqueness. The author kept true to the time period in the characters’ actions, clothing, and outside occurrences. It was a different world 50 years ago, and women didn’t just divorce their husbands without becoming the talk of the town. Mental illness was a dirty little secret. Ms. Lee convinced me I was living in the 60s with the way her characters reacted.

The plot of the story was much more than just one genre. It was about family, finding yourself, finding romance when you thought life was over, and most of all it had suspense. The murder investigation was well executed, keeping me guessing until the end without unnecessary surprises.

The single reason for rating this book less than 5 stars is that it could use another pass by a proofreader. The errors were noticeable enough to catch my attention but thankfully not enough to draw me out of the story. With such a fantastic story and the wonderful talent with words Ms. Lee has, I hate to see it dragged down by incorrect punctuation.

I truly enjoyed this book and Ms. Lee’s writing and look forward to reading more of her work.

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Happy reading!

Rach

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Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary Cover

4 out of 4 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Boundary by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

To an outside observer, Penny and her five friends live a life of luxury. They have everything they need provided for them, they live in a mansion, and they can do almost whatever they want within the boundary of that space. But it’s that boundary that makes Penny question everything around her. Touching the invisible wall surrounding the property will fry someone to a crisp, and Penny and her friends are essentially being held hostage inside it. They’re not exactly being held against their will, at least not until Penny begins questioning how they got there and why they can’t leave.

Penny’s curiosity not only angers their already sinister master, but it also begins a series of trials that pit friend against friend because the winner will get to leave the boundary. Alliances are formed and help is provided from unexpected sources, but not everything is as it seems. As the trials become more and more dangerous, it will be every man for him or herself.

Boundary is book one of the young adult The Other Horizons Trilogy, and although it is a standalone book, it does set the stage for the next book in the series. It is full of action and adventure, mystery, and fantasy, as well as being historical. This made for quite an interesting combination.

Although the story felt slow-moving at first, there was always the feeling that something more was under the surface. I immediately wanted to read on to find out why Penny and her friends were not able to leave the boundary. Even the somewhat mundane parts showing everyday life at the manor kept me involved and turning pages. The author did a good job of including small details that played into the plot in a larger way.

Overall this was a great book that I enjoyed reading, however I was left confused by some issues at the end. I’d be giving away too much of the story to go into detail, so suffice it to say these were not the type of issues that will be resolved in the next book; rather, they were the type that were resolved within this book but either done too quickly or without enough explanation for me. Still, I appreciated the journey and would be likely to read more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Speaking Greek (Foreign Exchange Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Speaking Greek (Foreign Exchange Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Speaking Greek Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Speaking Greek by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Rules are important to Tess Richardson. Her life has always been structured by them. But the moment she steps off the boat and onto a Greek island for her internship, she realizes that rules can be broken. When Tess’ feelings for her billionaire boss Nico begin to grow, she’ll have to decide if she’s going to take a chance and break some rules of her own.

Nico Stephanos has lived a life with no rules. As the son of a business mogul, Nico’s had anything and everything he wants with no questions asked. Meeting Tess, his rule-following intern, begins to put things into a different perspective. While Nico learns to live life like the rest of the population, he discovers rules being broken in a different way. Nico will have to figure out where his true loyalties lie—with his family or with following the rules.

Speaking Greek is a contemporary romance set on the beautiful island of Georgios in Greece where Tess lands an internship with a shipping company. I appreciated the juxtaposition of the main characters’ traits—one was a rule-follower and one was a rule-breaker—which set up what each of them had to overcome. Tess needed to learn that sometimes it’s okay to break rules but you have to know which ones are okay to break. Nico needed to realize that the fortunate life he led wasn’t all it seemed.

Tess was a strong character, another quality I admired. She’d been brought up following rules her whole life and wasn’t about to give up everything she believed in just for a fling with a guy who was off-limits anyway. Even when she did bend the rules, she never totally lost her perspective. Nico’s character underwent great change and growth throughout the story, starting as a privileged playboy and finding his way to a more balanced life.

While the romance between polar opposites was attractive, the book didn’t hold me as much as I expected it to. I kept reading, interested to find out how things were going to play out with the relationship between the main characters as well as the business issues, but it was missing that wow factor that really grabs you. At the start, Nico was already thinking about how his life needed a change, so it was no surprise that his attraction to Tess made that happen. There was insta-attraction between the characters, and it felt like both were losing their hearts before really getting to know one another. I would have enjoyed seeing the Greek customs more if they were only shown instead of told.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would read more in the series. I’ve read some of Ms. Laurence’s Lush series, which I really loved. Speaking Greek is book one in the Foreign Exchange series and can be read as a standalone.

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Rach

Stirred by Nancy S. Thompson – Review and Giveaway

Stirred by Nancy S. Thompson

Stirred Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Stirred by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

At forty-one, Eden MacLaird appears to have everything—a husband and son, a beautiful house, and a posh lifestyle. But her marriage is a sham, and finding her husband in bed with her best friend only makes her realize what she’s really missing: love. A chance meeting in a bar with Sean Bennett could change everything.

Sixteen years her junior, Sean awakens a sexual desire in Eden she’s long forgotten about. Just when she thinks she can have it all, a double murder points to Eden and Sean. As they get swept up in the investigation, long-buried secrets are revealed and Eden will have to decide if she really trusts Sean.

Stirred is an erotic romance with elements of mystery and suspense that will draw you in right from the prologue. There’s deceit, murder, intrigue, and of course hot sex. The relationship between Eden and Sean is built up nicely while Eden re-evaluates her world once she catches her husband and best friend in bed together and makes the resulting connection believable. The story is told in first person point of view from both Eden and Sean, giving the reader a solid understanding of where each character is coming from.

While the mystery continued until near the very end, there were plenty of clues along the way. Even though I essentially figured out what was going on, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of seeing everything resolved. There were plenty of things left to learn, and Ms. Thompson has a way of shocking you with what happens.

That said, there were some scenes that were quickly summarized that I would have liked to see in more detail, like Eden’s discussion with her son. Ian was a major reason for Eden’s hesitation in continuing her relationship with Sean, yet he was mostly only included in passing. Some of the secondary relationships felt forced in order to make the plot work. Eden and Reely were supposedly best friends for years, yet Eden seemed to dislike Reely even before catching her in bed with Declan. Sean was best friends with Trinitee, who was several years younger than him, but he was always quick to point out her flaws and shared her life story with Eden without much prompting.

Despite some drawbacks, this was an entertaining, mysterious, steamy story. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Thompson comes up with next.

Happy reading!

Rach

 

Stirred Summary:

I’m Eden MacLaird, and Fate screwed me good at the age of twenty-one, stole my first love, then my first child. Twenty years later, I still haven’t found my happily-ever-after. Sure, from the outside, I have it all, including Declan, my gorgeous, rich-as-sin husband. But things aren’t what they seem, and catching Declan in bed with my best friend destroys any dreams I harbor for love, much less sexual fulfillment.

Then in walks Sean Bennett…

Just months away from earning his post-graduate law degree, Sean’s smart, driven, and serious, but an unexpected encounter between us in a bar one night changes everything. His best friend, Trinitee, warns against getting too involved, but the heat between us is beyond intense, and neither of us are willing to walk away.

With my marriage in shambles, I’m eager to make a go of it with Sean, despite our sixteen-year age difference. But while I relish my sexual reawakening, I fear giving up the posh life I’ve grown accustomed to. That life, however, and everything in it, comes crashing down as bodies start piling up around us, and all clues point to me and Sean.

Secrets, betrayal, and revenge threaten to destroy not just my carefully-crafted reputation, but my very life. With our freedom at stake, Sean and I join forces to uncover those plotting against us. But as doubt and evidence mount, I must choose: give in to my suspicions and save myself, or trust our new-found love and save us both.

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Paperback

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Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-rNzbUJdKQ

Exclusive Excerpt:

Anticipation (1)

Her hands caught mine and stilled it in place, not letting me go any farther, but not pushing me away either. She was very conflicted; that much was certain—the look in her eyes, the way she worried her bottom lip with her teeth. And it would work to my benefit, I was sure. But instead of emboldening me, it gave me pause, and my longing inexplicably shifted from what I wanted for myself, to what I wanted for her—to feel desired, to know she was someone’s fantasy, a dream come true. I would show her what she’d been missing all these years, what her husband had denied her, that she was worth the effort, worth giving to, worth loving. And in my sudden need to be what her husband had not, I felt a fullness swell inside me. Not just between my legs, or even my heart, but in my soul.

Caught in that epiphany, I leaned in, my mouth a mere inch from her right ear.

“What are you so afraid of, Eden?” I breathed, and slowly, I moved to face her, so close, all I had to do was stretch my neck, ever so slightly, and my mouth was on hers, gently, my tongue a flick against her lips as I brushed across it. Next, my mouth was at her left ear. “Why not take the risk?” I pressed but for a moment before my mouth reclaimed hers.

I kissed her deeply this time, my tongue probing for hers, and, after a moment’s hesitation, she met me head on. My hand between her knees pressed forward, not rough, but definitely insistent. Undeniable. Her hands, once a tense and formidable barrier, relaxed, though she kept them resting against mine as my fingers edged upward, gently easing her legs apart to allow me access. And there it was, the lacy edge of her panties, and an intense, scorching heat. My heart ricocheted in response.

Eden sucked in a soft hiss as her mouth retreated from mine, but, though she pulled back for a split-second, a half-hearted attempt to regroup and regain control, she knew, as well as I, that it was impossible, and her mouth returned to the one place we both knew it belonged, right against mine. But even that proved too much for her, and she dipped her chin to lean her forehead against my cheek as she panted in anticipation.

Because that’s what this was. Anticipation. I hadn’t really touched her—not yet. I hadn’t invaded the space her wedding vows had long ago promised to one man, and one man only. That anticipation she felt was her sense of decency and fidelity warring with her desire, the basest need a human could ever experience.

 

Nancy S. Thompson Bio:

Nancy is a California transplant currently living in Seattle, Washington with her husband of 23 years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor for her publisher and writer friends and also has her own interior design business within the model home merchandising industry. When she’s not writing or editing, Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking.

Links:

Blog |Twitter | Facebook | Author Goodreads | Stirred Goodreads

 

 

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Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Ashley Bell through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Twenty-two-year-old Bibi Blair is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, but she’s determined to beat it. Two days later, she wakes up miraculously cured. What starts out as a celebratory gift from Bibi’s parents turns into a dangerous game when Bibi finds out her life was spared in order to save another—the life of Ashley Bell.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and Bibi will need to navigate a twisted web of clues in order to find Ashley Bell in time to save the girl. She’ll also need to remember things from her childhood—things she purposely forgot. Bibi has a new lease on life, but she just might lose it while facing down the enemy.

Ashley Bell is a mysterious psychological thriller that will have you turning page after page to delve deeper into the mind of the main character, Bibi Blair. It kept me guessing how it would all come together right up until the end, and I was fully invested in the lives of the characters.

At first glance, Bibi seems like she could be any other young woman. She’s an author and her parents are laid-back surfers, but Bibi’s a well-adjusted woman engaged to a Navy SEAL. At the same time, it’s clear there’s something different about her, something enthralling that pulls you into her life and makes you want to know more.

When Bibi is declared cancer-free, the story really begins to boggle the mind. Without a moment of reprieve, Bibi begins a quest to save the life of Ashley Bell, whom she’s never met and knows nothing about. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll only tell you the story is full of action and intrigue. Bibi has to get inside her own mind to save the girl and save herself. She’s a strong heroine, which is something I loved about the book. Bibi doesn’t back down from any of the challenges she faces.

The short chapters in this book sometimes gave the story a choppy feel, jumping from one scene to the next without much advancement. It certainly kept me turning the pages, but I would have preferred longer chapters where more is accomplished to keep me invested in the plot. As is typical for Mr. Koontz’s work, it was well-written and flowed enough to make up for the short chapters. By keeping them short, the events take on a real-time feel.

Overall, this book had me riveted from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Ashley Bell is currently available for pre-order and will be released on December 8, 2015.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Entwined (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 3) by Harper Miller

Entwined (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 3) by Harper Miller

Entwined Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Entwined by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

A few months before leaving a twenty-year military career, Jake decides to spice up his life a little. Thanks to his buddy’s suggestion, he creates a profile on the Kinky Connect website to find his perfect kinky match. He connects with a woman who fits his criteria, and they get to know each other in the months leading up to Jake’s return home. And once he gets home, Jake’s in for the surprise of his life. Gabrielle, his little vixen, has invited another woman to join in on the fun.

Entwined is the third installment in The Kinky Connect Chronicles. This story, like the others, is short and hot, just enough to get you going when you need a quick read. Also like the others, the story is written as if it’s a letter to the reader detailing the main character’s experience with the website. The concept is original, and all the stories are well-written, erotic, and allow the reader to experience a little taste of various kinks.

The difference with Entwined was that the kink wasn’t as apparent to me as the first two stories in the series. Jake admitted to a little bit of a Dom complex and liking some kink in his relationships, but it wasn’t until the epilogue, which I won’t spoil for you, that I was really able to understand the kink a little better. The addition of ménage à trios in a F/F/M scenario was plenty kinky, but there was more to the story than that.

Overall, it was another hot installment in the series, and I will definitely read any others Ms. Miller writes. Each story in the series is a standalone, and they can be read in any order.

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Happy reading!

Rach

The Immortals: Part Two: Allies & Enemies by Cheryl S. Mackey

The Immortals: Part Two: Allies & Enemies by Cheryl S. Mackey

The Immortals: Part Two Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of The Immortals: Part Two: Allies & Enemies by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Ivo, Jaeger, Jadeth, and Emaranthe are on their next quest. They have to find a map and locate a lost city. Although the four Immortals are a cohesive unit, others they meet along the way may help or hinder their search. Not everyone is as they seem, and the Immortals will need to decide who is an ally and who is an enemy.

The Immortals: Part Two: Allies & Enemies is a continuation of the young adult fantasy series The Immortals. This book covers enough background information that it could be read as a standalone, but it is best read in order with the series as it picks up right where Part One left off.

Like the first novella in the series, the character descriptions are well thought-out, giving the reader a good picture of just what these Immortals look like, and their powers are described enough that you’ll understand each person’s strength. I loved how the setting was incorporated: cold, dark nights and two suns blazing down during the day. The descriptions take you right into the fictional world of Ein-Aral. Each Immortal needs to use his or her strength to defeat their enemies, and as a unit they need to figure out who they can trust and what information to act on. This story introduces some new characters and provides more background on the main characters. There’s a good amount of action, and there’s also a nice touch of romance added in.

Although I’m not much of a fantasy reader, I did enjoy this story. It comes to a satisfying conclusion even though there will be more to the series. The only drawback was that it could use a little better editing. Overall, it was a good read.

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Happy reading!

Rach

PUCKED Up (The PUCKED Series Book 2) by Helena Hunting

PUCKED Up (The PUCKED Series Book 2) by Helena Hunting

PUCKED Up Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of PUCKED Up in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Miller “Buck” Butterson has five years of playing in the NHL under his belt, as well as five years of scoring with puck bunnies off-ice. After meeting his teammate’s sister, Sunshine “Sunny” Waters, Buck’s ready to settle down with a real girlfriend. But his reputation precedes him, and Buck has a knack for getting himself into situations that look worse than they are. As much as he wants to make things work with Sunny, there’s still a good chance things won’t work out. Maybe Buck’s not up for this off-ice challenge, and maybe Sunny’s not ready to trust him with her heart.

PUCKED Up is a romantic comedy that will have you laughing through the pages at all the situations Buck finds himself in. The cast of secondary characters only adds to the amusement. There’s his stepsister Violet, who has a tendency to overshare about her love life; Buck’s best friend Randy, who continually compounds Buck’s troubles; and Buck’s teammate Alex, who is Violet’s fiancé and Sunny’s brother, and who doesn’t want his baby sister dating a playboy like Buck.

Buck not only has his past to overcome, but he also has trouble reading because of dyslexia. Although his issue is nothing to laugh at, it’s incorporated into the story in a way that makes his situations more amusing. Buck prefers to use the speech-to-text and text-to-speech functions on his phone to avoid making spelling mistakes or reading something incorrectly. Unfortunately, he sometimes still misses things—like the time of his flight being six o’clock instead of nine o’clock and the length of time he’s supposed to leave hair remover on his skin.

This story is a standalone in the PUCKED series. It can certainly be read on its own, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d missed something by not having read the first book. This book starts when Buck and Sunny have already been seeing each other for about three months and Buck has already started trying to reform his playboy ways. I would have liked to have seen more of the beginning of their relationship and how they met instead of being told so much of it. And as much as it was clear that Buck used to be a playboy, we didn’t get to see any of that. Instead there was a lot of Buck telling the reader what he previously would have done if it weren’t for Sunny being in his life.

Overall, this was a truly enjoyable story that had me laughing out loud. I would definitely read more by this author and more of this series.

PUCKED Up will be available on October 25, 2015 but is currently available for pre-order.

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Rach

Life’s Defeat (Life’s Series Book 1) by Rebekah Raymond

Life’s Defeat (Life’s Series Book 1) by Rebekah Raymond

Life’s Defeat Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Life’s Defeat by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Upon her parents’ death, a young girl is taken in by StPatrick, the headmaster of a private school. The inside of the school’s walls is all she’s ever known, so when she is recruited to become a soldier for her school at a young age, she agrees. On one particular mission, the soldier comes face to face with Rochester, whose evil knows no bounds.

The soldier gets a small taste of freedom before being sucked back into military life and ultimately captured. She learns just how different she is from others while in Rochester’s captivity, and while most would say her abilities are a blessing, she views them as a curse. Once saved by her friend and a band of soldiers from her former school, the soldier finally has a purpose in life: seeking revenge on Rochester. But in the end, that revenge could prove her ultimate demise.

Life’s Defeat is an intriguing thriller. This is the author’s first novel, and I have to say I’m impressed. This story is completely different from anything else I’ve read. To start with, we never learn the main character’s name, even though the story is told in first person point of view by her. I kept thinking I missed something, but the author purposely did not give us her name. She was a soldier, and that pretty much defined her throughout the book.

The soldier had a genetic anomaly that kept her from dying, but she was unaware of this mutation until she was captured by Rochester. One would typically think this would be a good thing, but Rochester used this against her. Not only was he searching for the secret to this mutation so he could build his own army of undefeatable soldiers, but he also tortured the soldier to her breaking point, hoping she would become part of his team. The soldier’s inner thoughts were fascinating as we watched her personality essentially split into two throughout her captivity, and to see how she processed events and reacted to them was remarkable.

The book was also unique in that it focused solely on the soldier. There was a romantic interest, a father-figure, a villain, and a few other characters who played parts in the story, but they were secondary to everything the soldier was going through. Even the villain, the mastermind behind the soldier’s torture and repeated deaths, felt like a minor character compared to the soldier’s reaction to each of the events.

Although fascinating and well-written, the story did drag in a few places. I didn’t mind the gruesome nature of the soldier’s repeated deaths—be warned if that’s not your thing—but at times I felt as if we saw too many of them and the story could have moved forward without them. There were some minor editing errors, though they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. There were also some inconsistencies in the timeline of when she became a soldier and rose through the ranks.

Overall, this was a wonderful debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Leverage (The Mistaken Series Book 2) by Nancy S. Thompson

Leverage (The Mistaken Series Book 2) by Nancy S. Thompson

Leverage Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Leverage by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Tyler Karras is ready to live his new life now that the Russian mafia, the Bratva, has been disbanded. He has a new wife, a stepson, and a baby on the way. But old demons aren’t ready to release him from their clutches. In fact, the Bratva, which Ty thought he’d left buried four years ago, now wants to pull him in deeper than before. They have the perfect leverage over Ty—his new family.

In order to save his stepson Connor and his wife Hannah, Ty will have to do exactly what he swore to never do again. He’ll have to kill. And once he allows himself to do something so despicable, he’ll never be the same man again.

Leverage is book two in The Mistaken Series, and it picks up four years after the end of The Mistaken. It can be read as a standalone, as all the pertinent history is given to the reader, but it would be easier to understand after having read book one first. It is a suspenseful thriller with tons of action, and it will keep you guessing who is on what side right up until the end.

The story picks up with Hannah and Ty happily married and expecting their first child while Hannah’s son Connor begins a downward slide in college after witnessing the death of his best friend. But not everything is as it seems, and Connor’s problems lead him into a mess of trouble, landing him on the doorstep of the Russian mafia. The whole family gets pulled back into the mafia’s world without knowing why they’re being targeted.

Once again, Ty is a standup character. He only wants to do right by his family and protect those he loves. But circumstances outside his control drag him into the very life he was trying to escape. I enjoyed reading about his internal struggle to do the right thing versus doing what had to be done to save his family. Ty recognized that deaths would be on his conscience no matter what choice he made, and he didn’t want to subject his family to the man he would become once that happened.

This book brought Hannah’s son—Ty’s stepson—into the forefront. Connor seemingly fell into trouble with the mafia, not realizing he was specifically targeted. And hiding his troubles from his mother and stepfather only made matters worse. The inclusion of Connor in this book added another layer of intricacy to the plot, twisting and turning things around until you couldn’t be sure who to trust. It kept me constantly wondering who was on which side.

Told in first person point of view, one of the drawbacks of this book was the multiple points of view. Like The Mistaken, Leverage gave us three different perspectives. While the change of perspective was clearly labeled and separated by chapter, there was no rhyme or reason to the order. Something with so many changes would have been better told in third person, as it limits the confusion of who the “I” refers to and tends to feel smoother.

This book was also heavy on violence, so be warned if that’s not your thing. It was well written though, so while the reader got gory details, it certainly fit the theme of the book. The few minor editing issues didn’t disturb my enjoyment of the action-packed story. Overall, I enjoyed this, and I would definitely read more by this author.

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Happy reading!

Rach