HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan

May 15, 2021

From the publisher:

Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

Her public life

Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots.

Her private life

A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back.

Her secret life

As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret.  The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.

PopSugar’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers Books of April 2021


Cate Holahan has a tremendous gift for bringing characters she utilizes in her novels to vivid life for her readers. In her current novel, she places her characters into a plot that is as twisty and turny as any I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, making this book into a grab hold adventure into sleepless nights. 

Jade Thompson is a woman that has made a success of herself via the creation and building up an interesting blog involved in design details and sales of products in that area to an increasing number of interested readers. She has also just become engaged to Greg who is an extremely successful architect who has made himself wealthy via becoming involved with the design of big buildings. Greg is in the process of divorcing this wife of many years and has met and fallen in love with Jade. He has asked Jade to marry him with her accepting.     

Greg has two adult children who are not too thrilled with their father becoming engaged to a woman that is very close in age to his daughter and seemingly leaving their mother. The plot thickens when one night Jade and Greg are subjected to a home invasion. Greg suffers a hit to his head by one of the two robbers using a blunt instrument while Jade is hit in the stomach.  She has become pregnant and loses the baby as a result of the blow. She also is robbed of a very valuable ring she received as an engagement present.    

Holahan takes her readers on a rollercoaster ride as besides Jade and Greg, Jade’s mother and Greg’s adult children get involved in throwing around the whys and wherefores of what was the cause of the home invasion if it had anything to do with an engagement that apparently all felt was too soon and ill advised. Believe me when I state that readers will become dizzy from the myriad of  permutations and combinations involved. It will be an experience that will add to the enjoyment of the book and the expectation of reading future books by the author.

5/2021 Paul Lane

HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan. Grand Central Publishing (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538736340. 352 pages.

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CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis

May 14, 2021

Sunshine Valley, Book 1

From the publisher:

From a USA Today bestselling author comes a heartwarming romance about a city girl who finds herself widowed in a quirky small town and the new target of the town’s relentless matchmaking Widows Club.

Head-over-heels in love, Lola Williams gave up everything to marry Randy, including a promising career in New York City. Now, after one year of marriage and one year of widowhood, Lola finds herself stranded in Sunshine, Colorado, reeling from the revelation that Randy had secrets she never could have imagined. She swears she’s done with love forever but the matchmaking ladies of the Sunshine Valley Widows Club have different plans…

Sheriff Drew Taylor also knows what it feels like to be unlucky in love. So when Lola comes to him for help uncovering Randy’s hidden life, Drew finds himself saying yes against his better judgment – especially with the Widows Club eyeing them both. Soon enough, Lola is upending Drew’s peaceful, predictable world…and he kind of likes it! But will this big-city girl ever give her heart to a small-town guy again?


This author was new to me, and as this is a new series, I’m happy to report that this was a terrific read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

It’s always terribly sad when a young woman is widowed, especially after only a year of marriage. Then to find out that your husband had some serious secrets only adds to the grieving process. But there is a Widow’s Club in this small town, and while Lola is decades younger than the rest, they nonetheless decide that she needs a man, and the widows go into a matchmaking frenzy.

This is a very sweet romance, and I loved all the quirky characters. I really liked that the Sheriff also had some baggage that he had to deal with, too. I am a sucker for small towns (never having lived in one) and while this was more sweet than steamy, it had humor and heart and I couldn’t put it down.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis. Forever; Reissue edition (March 31, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733417. 512 pages.

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THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by D.J. Palmer

May 13, 2021

From the publisher:

A thriller that explores the truth or lies behind a teenage girl’s multiple personality disorder, from D.J. Palmer, the author of The New Husband.

Meet Ruby, who speaks with a British accent.

Then there’s Chloe, a perfectionist who strives for straight A’s in school.
And along comes Eve, who is spiteful and vicious.
All of them live inside Penny…
Or do they?

Penny Francone, age sixteen, is a murderer. Her guilt is beyond doubt: she was found alone in the victim’s apartment, covered in blood, holding the murder weapon. The victim’s identity and her secret relationship to Penny give Penny the perfect motive, sealing the deal. All the jury needs to decide now is where Penny will serve out her sentence. Will she be found not guilty by reason of insanity, as her lawyer intends to argue? Or will she get a life sentence in a maximum-security prison?
Already reeling from tragedy after the sudden passing of her beloved husband a few years before, now Grace is on her knees, grateful that Massachusetts doesn’t allow the death penalty.

As Penny awaits trial in a state mental hospital, she is treated by Dr. Mitchell McHugh, a psychiatrist battling demons of his own. Grace’s determination to understand the why behind her daughter’s terrible crime fuels Mitch’s resolve to help the Francone family. Together, they set out in search of the truth about Penny, but discover instead a shocking hidden history of secrets, lies, and betrayals that threatens to consume them all.

The perfect daughter. Is she fooling them all?


D.J. Palmer brings an extremely well researched novel on a theme rarely touched upon to his readers. The story concerns a young girl with multiple personalities that take turns dominating their host. 

Grace and her husband Arthur have two sons who have melded with their parents into a good family. As fate would have it, Grace, while walking in the park, comes upon a young girl that turns out to have been abandoned. The girl, Penny, has little memory of her past but seems to Grace to be a miracle and when the opportunity arises, she and her husband decide to adopt her. To help her regain her memory Penny is sent to various psychiatrists all of whom fail to recognize her symptoms.      

One day Penny learns that her birth mother has moved back near her and decides to visit her.  While there tragedy strikes and the police come finding Penny covered in blood, her birth mother dead as a result of multiple stab wounds and her fingerprints all over the knife found at the scene of the crime. The authorities decide to send Penny to a psychiatric state hospital rather than to prison for evaluation and there await trial for murder.   

Palmer describes conditions prevalent in the hospital where everyone is overworked and it is difficult to provide adequate help for the sick. Based on his research, Penny’s shifts into her other personalities and how they emerge with their own characteristics taking control. It is a fascinating study of conditions that have rarely been described, and when done so are not well illustrated. This is not the author’s first published book and it’s theme and depth certainly add to his reputation as a top tier writer.

NOTE: D.J. Palmer also writes as Daniel Palmer.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by D.J. Palmer. St. Martin’s Press (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250267924. 384 pages.

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THE HEIRESS HUNT by Joanna Shupe

May 12, 2021

THE HEIRESS HUNT by Joanna Shupe. Avon (March 9, 2021). ISBN 978-0063045040. 400 pages.

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LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas

May 11, 2021

From the publisher:

A story of courage and bravery from a Jew behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

How many secrets can one family hold?

Levi Horowitz isn’t a natural-born soldier. But in November 1938, Berlin is a volatile place for a Jew, and the talented young musician secures passage to Switzerland. Instead, Levi is taken to a Danish border checkpoint and from then on his war becomes secret, even from those he loves best.

In 2017, a recording emerges, showing Levi in 1945 and revealing a story in equal parts shocking and heroic. It is a journey that leads him face-to-face with Hitler, and into a position to change the final outcome of the war.

Levi’s War follows on from the enthralling historical novels The Keeper of Secrets and Rachel’s Legacy, this time tracing the story of the eldest Horowitz son. Whether you’re discovering Julie Thomas’s books for the first time, or making a return visit to the saga of the Horowitz family, Levi’s War will leave you utterly breathless.


This is the third and final novel in the author’s planned trilogy about the Horowitz family and events they took part in during World War II.  I have not read the first two books so that certain described situations mentioned in this book are not familiar to me. While it would have helped overall understanding I did not lose complete track of events and could keep up with the flow of this book. 

Levi is a Jewish boy born into a well to do banking family living in Berlin, Germany enjoying life until the horror of Adolf Hitler and his cronies seized power and turned the country into a police state looking to conquer the world. Levi’s father saw what was probably going to happen and sent Levi to live and work in England. He was supposed to establish a base in order to bring over all his family but fate threw him a curve and he began life as a spy thanks to the British government interceding with him, training him as a soldier, and sending him back into Germany to spy on Nazi activities for the allies. 

Levi returns and gets a position with a Nazi unit to both support himself and have access to information needed by his sponsors.  As a young man Levi had developed a love for and a talent for music playing at a concert hall level. This skill helps him in working at his spy craft gaining entrance to homes of the very well connected including the very top: – Hitler himself. Themes running through the novel are Levi’s having to apologize for his Jewishness and also to have to hide the fact that he is gay in a country which makes homosexuality a crime even to killing the person for showing a same sex love for another human being.     

While Thomas shows the amount of research she undertook to tell this story I fault her on jumping helter-skelter from topic and circumstance to something else. There were a few situations where the reader could very easily have lost continuity and interest making it very far from an all nighter. Levi’s constant fixing on his homosexuality is overdone and doesn’t at all help maintain the reader’s interest.

5/2021 Paul Lane

LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas. HarperCollins (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1460759622. 320 pages.

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CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis

May 10, 2021

Sunshine Valley, Book 1

From the publisher:

From a USA Today bestselling author comes a heartwarming romance about a city girl who finds herself widowed in a quirky small town and the new target of the town’s relentless matchmaking Widows Club.

Head-over-heels in love, Lola Williams gave up everything to marry Randy, including a promising career in New York City. Now, after one year of marriage and one year of widowhood, Lola finds herself stranded in Sunshine, Colorado, reeling from the revelation that Randy had secrets she never could have imagined. She swears she’s done with love forever but the matchmaking ladies of the Sunshine Valley Widows Club have different plans…

Sheriff Drew Taylor also knows what it feels like to be unlucky in love. So when Lola comes to him for help uncovering Randy’s hidden life, Drew finds himself saying yes against his better judgment – especially with the Widows Club eyeing them both. Soon enough, Lola is upending Drew’s peaceful, predictable world…and he kind of likes it! But will this big-city girl ever give her heart to a small-town guy again?


I love finding new authors, and this author was new to me but not for long – I’m going to be reading some of her older books soon. This one was really good.

I always enjoy books set in small towns. I’ve never lived anywhere like that, so I find it interesting. This small town is run by a group of widows and they are matchmakers. Lola and Drew make a great couple, only they don’t know it yet. Lola is a young widow trying to find out more about her husband and Drew is the perfect man to help her.

There are a lot of laughs and some very sweet, poignant moments as well. Sex is more implied than graphic. I couldn’t help but root for these characters to find their happily ever after. Luckily, this is the first book of a series and I am looking forward to the next book for sure!

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAN’T HURRY LOVE by Melinda Curtis. Forever; Reissue edition (March 31, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538733417. 512 pages.

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SHIPPED by Angie Hockman

May 9, 2021

From the publisher:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.


I am always excited when I find a new author to add to my ‘must read’ list. The enemies-to-lovers trope is at the forefront of this really cute romance. Although they’ve never actually met, Henley and Graeme really hate each other, all via email. When their boss offers up a chance for promotion, they both want it, even if it means taking a cruise to the Galapagos together. The company wants a new campaign to improve their cruise business and Henley and Graeme have lots of ideas. It’s totally believable and these characters are so well developed, we can’t help but root for them both.

The setting – both the cruise ship and the Galapagos are unusual, exotic, and add another layer to the story. But it’s the chemistry between these two characters that really heat up the novel and totally sucked me in. The secondary characters add a lot of humor as well. Lots of laughs, plenty of charm, and a sizzling hot romance make for a terrific read that actually lives up to its hype. Don’t miss it – I almost did as it got lost in my to-be-read pile, but I am so glad I found it.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SHIPPED by Angie Hockman. Gallery Books; Reprint edition (January 19, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982151591. 336 pages.

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THE GARDEN OF ANGELS by David Hewson

May 8, 2021

From the publisher:

At his beloved Nonno Paolo’s deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.


Italy entered World War II on the side of Germany, no doubt convinced by Mussolini, the Italian dictator that it would be best to ally themselves with Hitler. The love affair between the two did not last through the entire war and while remnants of the Italian army still served with German troops, Hitler sent an army of occupation to Italy to ensure that the country stayed loyal. 

Hewson’s book is set in the city of Venice during the Nazi occupation and does an exemplary job of depicting the horrors inflicted by the Germans on the civilian population. 

Nonno Paolo is a man that lived through the occupation and has kept his ordeals to himself for many years. The novel opens when Nonno is on his deathbed some fifty plus years after the end of the occupation. He calls his grandson to his side and indicates that he wants to communicate something that must remain between the two and not told to the boy’s father.   

Nicco, the grandson, is asked to read a series of manuscripts prepared by his grandfather. What is contained in these writings will be left to Nicco to interpret for himself although his grandfather would like to discuss them with him and get his ideas.     

The family was engaged in building a business involving the highly skilled weaving of fabrics centered in Venice when the Nazis began their occupation. Hitler’s policies of anti Jewish, Gypsy and Homo sexual groups is adopted by Mussolini and incorporated into a code similar to the Nurenberg laws existing in Germany. A conundrum is placed upon the family when they are asked to shelter a Jewish brother and sister that had been in the Italian resistance and ambushed a group of Germany troops. Sheltering such fugitives could mean death to the family caught sheltering them. When it was explained that the sheltering would be only a little while it was decided to go ahead and offer a short term haven for the two.     

In order to help out while there the brother decides to learn how to weave and aid on a project that would bring in some much needed revenue. Nonno and the brother become friends and close during the activity while the sister thinks only of action against the Nazis. Events taking place and the frights endured by all involved are carefully delineated and make for a uniquely rewarding story of another time and the circumstances peculiar to the period. The reader will find him or herself unable to put the book down and commiserating with the participants in the novel.  A very rewarding read culminating in an unexpected but logical ending.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE GARDEN OF ANGELS by David Hewson. Severn House Publishers (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250257208. 304 pages.

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THE EX TALK by Rachel Lynn Solomon

May 7, 2021

From the publisher:

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.
 
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio. 
 
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.  
 
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.


Enemies to lovers. If that isn’t your thing, you can stop now. I happen to like that trope, and Solomon really ups the ante with the fact that these are journalists faking the news. Yep, you read that right. Now it’s not exactly news, but still it is public radio and there are definitely levels of expectation here of honesty. That is not delivered.

This radio station, like many public radio stations, struggles with financing. Layoffs are imminent and they need a hit show, something that get go national, to bring their station back from the brink. The Ex Talk seems like a really fun idea – get two exes to offer relationship advice. But instead of finding a couple post breakup, the the station manager decides that two of his producers would be great – they already hate each other.

Shay is proud of her work as a producer and never really tried to be an on air personality. Dominic is a bit of a know-it-all, fresh off his masters in journalism. They are constantly sniping at each other, which should make great radio and it does. The show takes off and is hugely popular. But then the unthinkable happens (at least to anyone who’s never read a romance) – they fall in love, fighting it every minute.

I really enjoyed this – lots of laughs and some smart dialogue, too.

5/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE EX TALK by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Berkley (January 26, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593200124. 352 pages.

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FIND YOU FIRST by Linwood Barclay

May 6, 2021

From the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Elevator Pitch and master of psychological suspense returns with a riveting thriller in which the possible heirs of a dying tech millionaire are mysteriously being eliminated, one by one.

Find You First starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. . . . It’s the best book of his career.”  — Stephen King

Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of—except time. He has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and there is a fifty percent chance that it can be passed on to the next generation. For Miles, this means taking a long hard look at his past . . .

Two decades ago, a young, struggling Miles was a sperm donor. Somewhere out there, he has kids—nine of them. And they might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him—maybe his fortune, or maybe something much worse.

As Miles begins to search for the children he’s never known, aspiring film documentarian Chloe Swanson embarks on a quest to find her biological father, armed with the knowledge that twenty-two years ago, her mother used a New York sperm bank to become pregnant.

When Miles and Chloe eventually connect, their excitement at finding each other is overshadowed by a series of mysterious and terrifying events. One by one, Miles’s other potential heirs are vanishing—every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.

Who is the vicious killer—another heir methodically erasing rivals? Or is something even more sinister going on?

It’s a deadly race against time . . .


Miles Cookson has made himself a fortune via founding a highly successful tech company. He can afford anything and everything that he might want. Unfortunately, an exception has made its way into his life. He has been advised that he has a terminal illness that will take his life in a relatively short period of time. 

Faced with this devastating news Miles brings to mind that two decades ago and before the burgeoning of his successful career he went to a sperm bank and was paid to make a donation in order to help his financial status. Now with death facing him Miles realizes that he may have children fathered by his sperm. The horror of this is that there is a good chance that his DNA passed down to those offspring fathered by him, will cause his offspring to have a good chance of developing the disease that is going to kill him.     

Linwood Barclay develops a mesmerizing plot and a good book to dive into based on Miles finding out who the children born with him as the father and where they currently are residing. His searches for them are not as straight forward as they should be when it develops that someone is trying to kill off his children. The why behind the murders involves a carefully constructed plot and the warm emotions stemming from a recognition that the members of the group he fathered are actually his children.

Chloe Swanson, a member of those purported to be Miles’ children, is at first interested in how much she might collect from the very wealthy Miles. Her opinion changes as she gets to know him and she begins helping him with his search while developing a strong feeling towards him as a father figure that she did not have growing up.     

The novel is one that keeps the reader glued to the pages as most of Barclay’s books are. A good addition to the author’s well received works and one that will cause the reader to keep on the lookout for his next novel.

5/2021 Paul Lane

FIND YOU FIRST by Linwood Barclay. William Morrow (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062678317. 448 pages.

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