Win the October ’17 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

October 1, 2017

Welcome to the October bookshelf of signed thrillers! There are terrific books this month from some of my favorite authors and some new-to-me authors. To enter, go to the Win Books page. More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often.

Best of luck!

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MIND GAME by Iris Johansen: Searching for a long-missing treasure in Scotland, Jane MacGuire experiences vivid dreams of a girl in danger at the same time she reconnects with a volatile ex and is confronted by stunning changes in the lives of those closest to her.

DEATH IN ST. PETERSBURG by Tasha Alexander: When the body of a prima ballerina is discovered in the snow, Lady Emily races through Saint Petersburg to investigate a case that is complicated by a distraught lover, the politics of Tsarist Russia, and sightings of a ghostly dancer.

PARTING SHOT by Linwood Barclay:  A standalone spin-off from the Promise Falls trilogy finds Cal Weaver investigating threats made against an accused killer’s family in spite of local outrage, a case that embroils him in a vicious revenge plot.

EVEN IF IT KILLS HER by Kate White: Regretting that she has not kept more in touch with a college roommate whose family was brutally murdered years earlier, journalist-turned-sleuth Bailey Weggins helps investigate when the man convicted of the crime is exonerated and secrets from her roommate’s past begin to surface.

PULSE by Felix Francis: When a smartly dressed man dies in the hospital after being found unconscious at a local racetrack, doctor Chris Reynolds, a specialist struggling with mental health challenges, searches for the victim’s identity and clues about what happened only to be targeted by a ruthless killer.

THE FRENCHMAN by Lise McClendon:  It’s Eat Pray Love meets murder mystery in Lise McClendon’s deliciously cozy chronicles of sisterhood, international travel … and a soupçon of danger.

THE SECRETS OF CHICORY LANE by Raymond Benson: From the New York Times bestselling author comes a new novel of suspense about coming-of-age in the 1960s—and the neighborhood street where first love, a child abduction, and abuse collide.

BOOK OF JUDAS by Linda Stasi: In order to save her son from mortal danger, New York City reporter Alessandra Russo must find rumored missing pages from the Gospel of Judas, thus entering a world of murder, conspiracy, and sexual depravity in her search for the incendiary pages.

KEEP HER SAFE by Sophie Hannah: A British woman’s relaxing holiday at a sunny Arizona resort transforms into a dark, obsessive quest for the truth when she becomes convinced that another guest is the woman who disappeared in a sensational headline case years earlier.

HER LAST GOODBYE by Melinda Leigh: Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s Morgan Dane series continues as the fearless attorney and her partner, investigator Lance Kruger, take on a disturbing disappearance…

NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE by Neil S. Plakcy: Fast-paced, gritty, and deeply captivating, Nobody Rides for Free finds our queer protagonist off of desk duty and back on the job, tackling a child pornography case that will take him out of his comfort zone, test his commitment, and command his full arsenal of resources.

SPLICED by Jon McGoran: When her friend becomes obsessed with paying back-alley geneticists to transform her into a chimera in spite of restrictive legislation, 16-year-old Jimi races against time to prevent his friend from being officially declared a nonperson.

LIGHTS OUT SUMMER by Rich Zahradnik: Taylor, a journalist who works for a small wire service in New York City, ignores the Son of Sam story everyone is chasing in 1977 and instead goes after the largely ignored murder of Martha Gibson, a 24-year-old black woman who was shot dead in her Queens apartment.

You can win autographed copies of all these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak

October 17, 2017

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When I first heard about this book, a family with two adult children who are forced into quarantine together for a week, I immediately thought of the Jonathan Tropper book, This is Where I Leave You, which has a similar plot line. So I was surprised to find that the two books really couldn’t be more different. Sure, the dysfunctional family is still there but the voice is completely different, as are the dynamics of the characters. Plus this is set in Great Britain, so that dry humor is really different, too.

Olivia Birch, a doctor, has been working in Liberia during a humanitarian crisis. They are dealing with a deadly “Haag virus,” which I looked up and realized is just a made up plot device, however much it sounded real. She has fallen in love with a co-worker, Sean, a doctor from Ireland, but are keeping it secret as that is against the rules. They are both returning home for Christmas, and separate at the airport, he to return to Ireland and she to return to the family estate in the country. They are both under strict quarantine as it takes a few days for the symptoms of the disease to appear.

Olivia’s mom Emma waits at the airport and strikes up a conversation with a young man she meets there. While they don’t even exchange names, they do exchange secrets.

Emma whisks Olivia home where her father and her newly engaged sister are waiting, and the week of quarantine begins. Relationships are examined, secrets abound, and lots of drama occurs amidst the laughter. I don’t want to give anything away, it’s too much fun discovering what all is going on as you read.

This was a totally engrossing novel that made me laugh out loud on occasion, as well as cry, the whole emotional gamut. Hornak has a really unique voice that brings the Birch family to life. A wonderful read that would make for a great book discussion. Don’t miss it.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak. Berkley (October 17, 2017). ISBN 978-0451488756. 368p.

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INFINITE GROUND by Martin Macinnes

October 16, 2017

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This is a story told via a series of surrealistic scenes. A man named Carlos disappears while eating dinner with a large group in a South American locale. He is not missed until an inspector begins to look for him over a period of time in a variety of locations.

Unfortunately, there are enough places and scenarios within surrealistic contexts to keep the reader thoroughly confused as to what is going on and what is the objective of the book. I noticed the plethora of positive comments and finished the book because I had started it and didn’t believe I would be unable to get the point of the exercise. I didn’t.

From the publisher:

On a sweltering summer night at a restaurant in an unnamed Latin American city, a man at a family dinner gets up from the table to go to the restroom . . . and never comes back. He was acting normal, say family members. None of the waiters or other customers saw him leave.

A semi-retired detective takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which the missing man worked seems to be a front for something else; the staff describes their colleague as having suffered alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist examining his office uncovers evidence of curious microorganisms.

As the detective relives and retraces the man’s footsteps, the trail leads him away from the city sprawl and deep into the country’s rainforest interior . . . where, amidst the overwhelming horrors and wonders of the natural world, a chilling police procedural explodes into a dislocating investigation into the nature of reality.

10/17 Paul Lane

IINFINITE GROUND by Martin Macinnes. Melville House (October 17, 2017).  ISBN 978-1612196855. 272p.

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WEYCOMBE by G. M. Malliet

October 15, 2017

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G. M. Malliet brings us a well-written whodunit set in an upscale gated community in England called Weycombe. The novel is set up with the main protagonist, Jillian White, as the narrator and analyzer of the events portrayed.

Jillian is an American living in Weycombe with her English husband whom she met while attending Oxford. He is a member of the British peerage, has a title, and an excellent career which allows him to provide the wherewithal to live in Weycombe, even when Jillian loses her job with the BBC.

The novel begins as Jillian, finishing her morning exercise run, spots the dead body of a woman near the road. The police are called and determine that the lady was murdered, starting an investigation in which Jillian and her neighbors are questioned. Jillian decides that since she has the time she will also attempt to solve the crime.

With a very pleasing tongue-in-cheek style, Malliet describes Jillian’s findings when she questions her neighbors as to their views of the murder. In what is certainly the manner that these types of investigations proceed everywhere, Jillian finds that most of what she finds is a mixed bag. Most of the people questioned have opinions and most of what they say conflicts with every other opinion.

Adding spice to an already excellent read, Jillian is faced with the probability that her husband has been cheating on her. She realizes that her marriage is in trouble and has to deal with that situation while looking into the murder. I found myself immediately drawn into the novel and couldn’t put it down until finished.  I am now a Malliet fan and look forward to her next book.

10/17 Paul Lane

WEYCOMBE by G. M. Malliet. Midnight Ink (October 8, 2017).  ISBN  978-0738754260. 360p.

Kindle


BAD REPUTATION by Nicole Edwards

October 14, 2017

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A Bad Boys of Sports Novel

This is a standalone contemporary romance with some definite heat. I like how it was written with alternating viewpoints, we hear from Cassie and from Chase, and it’s always fun seeing where they are headed before they do.

Cassie and Chase have been best friends (without benefits!) for many years. She told him up front that she was not going to sleep with him, and the relationship worked for them both. Chase became a hockey star and Cassie became a high tech VP and they’ve been hanging out through good and bad relationships and Chase’s philandering ways.

But Chase is quicker to realize that he has developed feelings for Cassie, which he thinks she does not reciprocate. When she asks him along on a business trip to Vegas, things come to a head one very drunken night. What happens in Vegas follows them home and they have to work through a lot to find their happy ending. And they do, with lots of steamy sex along the way.

This was a one night read for me and a lot of fun – pure escapism. If you’re in the mood, go for it!

10/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

BAD REPUTATION by Nicole Edwards. Loveswept (October 3, 2017). ASIN: B01N6OVQRJ. 273p.

 


THE PRAGUE SONATA by Bradford Morrow

October 13, 2017

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A beautifully written book set against the background of the international world of music, both classic and general. Otylie Bautosova is a young girl that we meet in 1918 as she is saying goodbye to her father, a Czech soldier who is returning to the front at the very end of World War I. His parting words to Otylie are that music is everything and even the horrors of war revolve around it. He gives her a music manuscript that is clearly old and which her father tells her to guard and keep safe because it will ensure her future. Her father is then killed, becoming one of the last casualties of the war.

Years later, Otylie marries but the second world war intervenes. Her husband joins the partisans fighting the Nazi invaders but is unfortunately killed. With enough tragedy for several lifetimes, the capstone is the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Stalin and the Russians. Otylie manages to escape to England and works for the Czech government in exile while there. She later moves to the United States and her fate ties in with the second half of the book and the activities of an American pianist named Meta Taverner.

Meta lives in New York with the ability to become a great pianist. Unfortunately, she suffers an injury to one arm which takes away her ability to perform as required in playing great classical music. She is advised by a friend that there is a valuable undiscovered sonata in Prague. Meta makes the decision to try and locate the piece and return it to its rightful owners.

The search for the sonata is described beautifully by the author, whose expertise in the world of music makes this book a truly wonderful read. The reader is introduced to a world not often touched upon by most authors and introduces creativity given to some people that cause happiness in our world. This is truly a haunting book that will stay with the reader for a long time to come.

10/17 Paul Lane

THE PRAGUE SONATA by Bradford Morrow. Atlantic Monthly Press (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0802127150. 528p.

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FALLING FOR GRACIE by Susan Mallery

October 12, 2017

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Los Lobos Series, Book 2

I didn’t know about this series and for some reason, my library didn’t get the first book so I’m starting here. (But I might have to buy it, I really liked this one!) Susan Mallery has become one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. Her characters are always interesting, she writes good sex scenes, and I love her sense of humor.

Gracie was just fourteen years old when her father died and she fell madly in love with the 18-year-old hottie next door, Riley. At that age, four years makes a huge difference and Riley was not interested. But Gracie was nothing if not persistent, and the stunts she pulled to get his attention and to keep him from marrying his pregnant girlfriend were legendary. So much so that a series of newspaper articles about her kept the small town of Los Lobos enthralled but completely embarrassed her mother, who sent her off to live with an aunt and uncle.

Gracie never came home until fourteen years later, when her youngest sister was about to get married. The aunt and uncle died, leaving Gracie their home, and she started an uber-successful wedding cake business. Her sister is determined to have biggest, most ostentatious cake, and wedding, for that matter, even though she keeps calling it off every time her fiance does something she doesn’t like.

Alexis is the middle sister and the family drama queen, and she is convinced that her husband is cheating on her. He is managing Riley’s campaign for mayor, and Alexis convinces Gracie to spy on Riley’s house to see if her husband is really there. Of course Gracie gets caught, Alexis takes off and abandons her, and Riley demands an explanation of why his former stalker seems up to her old tricks.

Riley got divorced a few months after his marriage when he realized he was duped and his wife wasn’t pregnant. He left town after that, made his fortune and traveled the world. Unbeknownst to most of the town, his uncle, who owned the bank and left an estate of almost a hundred million dollars, left it to Riley with one proviso; he had to take over at the bank and become mayor of Los Lobos. Election season is underway but the standing mayor doesn’t mind playing dirty politics to keep his seat.

Gracie and Riley end up spending some time together, trying to find out what Gracie’s brother-in-law is up to, and find they enjoy their time together. They fall in love but there are obstacles in the way, not the least of which is someone tries to derail the mayoral campaign and destroy Gracie’s cake business.

There are a lot of laughs, some steamy sex scenes and a happy ending in this terrific contemporary romance. I read it in one night and highly recommend it.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FALLING FOR GRACIE by Susan Mallery. HQN Books (April 25, 2017). ISBN 978-0373801954. 384p.

Kindle


CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE by Jill Shalvis

October 11, 2017

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Heartbreaker Bay, Book 4

Colbie Albright is a bestselling author of a dystopian young adult series of books that are being turned into movies, but she writes under a pseudonym. When her publisher asks for a fourth book in the trilogy* to coincide with the movie premier, Colbie finds herself with a severe case of writers block. She decides to hop on a plane to somewhere warm and try and find her muse again.

(*No, that doesn’t add up but isn’t all that unusual! In real life, see Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap trilogy, I think there are at least 4 books, maybe 5?)

Colbie ends up in San Francisco, asks the cab driver to surprise her and she ends up visiting this famous fountain. Unfortunately, she ends up in the fountain when a large dog takes off and knocks her over. The dog’s walker, Spencer Baldwin, feels terrible and that is your meet-cute. He convinces her to come with him and provides her with laundry service, a place to stay, himself as a San Francisco tour guide and eventually, her lover.

Colbie isn’t exactly forthcoming about who she is and Spence assumes she is a struggling writer working on her first novel. Spence isn’t forthcoming about who he is either; he’s a tech millionaire workaholic with a history of bad romances. But there is such a strong attraction between them that they keep getting together, finding they have more and more in common. But Colbie has to get home by Christmas, and the fact she’s leaving let’s Spence feel comfortable with the short-term relationship. Until they both realize they want more…

If you are looking for a Christmas romance, this really isn’t it. The holiday aspects seem somewhat of an afterthought, but it is a fast, fun read. I thoroughly enjoy this series.

10/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE by Jill Shalvis. Avon (September 26, 2017). ISBN 978-0062697219. 272p.

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Paperback


FAIRYTALE by Danielle Steel

October 10, 2017

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Let me start by saying that I think the last time I read a Danielle Steel book I was pregnant with my son and he is now 32 years old. I couldn’t tell you which book, but as I recall, it was an entertaining read but not much more than that.

My library patrons read her all the time and she has gone the way of many popular writers, spinning out several books a year. This one came up on a site I use to get digital review copies so I thought I’d give it a try.

I hated this book so much I’m not sure why I finished it, other than I fell back on an old bad habit of reading to the end in hopes it would get better. It didn’t.

I’ll start with the beginning. I’ve gone to a lot of writing conferences over the years, as a reader and a fan, and I’ve often heard writers talk about showing, not telling in their work. This book is a prime example of why that is. The first chunk, maybe 25-30% of the book, was a litany of people and places and their history. The people are Christophe and Joy, who meet, fall in love, build a winery, have a daughter they name Camille, and have a pretty perfect life. This covers 20 years.

Camille has just graduated Stanford and is happy to be home, working in the vineyard with her mother. Joy runs the business side of things, Christophe, along with his vineyard manager Cesare, run the winery side of things. More perfection. Only problem with perfection is that it’s boring. Camille and her parents get along beautifully, although Camille has no social life, because after all, working in the business and spending time with her parents is all any 20something wants out of life.

Yawn.

Eventually, some drama creeps in and Joy dies, and shortly after that the extremely happily married but now devastated Christophe meets a predator, the Countess Maxine, a highly skilled gold-digger whom he marries, waiting just past the one year anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, out of respect of course. Camille realizes that Maxine is not the kind woman her mother was, but her father is blinded by naivete and – wait for it – lust.

More tragedy occurs, and the evil stepmother, along with her two evil sons, are now making Camille’s life miserable. Luckily, friend of the family Sam and his son Phillipe step in to help. Camille and Phillipe grew up together, but he is seven years older than her so they’ve always had this brother-sister relationship.

Then as if the perfect life wasn’t enough of a fairy tale, Steel borrows heavily and heavy-handedly from the Cinderella story. The evil stepmother goes to the ball, and Camille’s “fairy grandmother” makes sure she goes, too, stealing her a dress and even lending her sparkly shoes to wear. The ultimately happy ending comes out of nowhere and didn’t make any sense to me for reasons that would give away the weak story altogether.

If you, dear reader, decide to read this book, I would love to hear from you. I can’t wait to talk to my library patrons about it, I am dying to know if anyone likes it. The early reviews on Amazon are wonderful, for the most part, which just confused me.

I was thoroughly disgusted by the end, more with myself for sticking with it and wasting two and a half hours of my life that I’ll never get back, but also with the ridiculous ending. Did I mention that I hated this book?

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FAIRYTALE by Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press (October 10, 2017). ISBN 978-1101884065. 288p.

Kindle


Guest Blogger: Rebecca Marks

October 9, 2017

I am delighted to welcome Rebecca Marks to the blog!

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Meet Dana Cohen
by Rebecca Marks

Dana Cohen is the protagonist of my mystery series. Dana is a beautiful, 40-something, redheaded, hard drinking, former NYPD detective who has “retired” after her 22-year stint with the department. Her mother passed away years ago from cancer, but she has now moved back to her childhood home on the North Fork of Long Island to take care of Sam, her aging father who has succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease and lives at the Island Breeze nursing home.

Dana’s ex-husband is Pete Fitzgerald, another NYPD detective she met soon after joining the force. The two married quickly when Dana found out she was pregnant. Both the pregnancy and the marriage were doomed—after Dana’s miscarriage, Pete’s roving eye finally “got to” Dana, and the two separated. But somehow, they never seemed to “pull the trigger” on a divorce, with Pete claiming his Catholic religion wouldn’t allow him to do that. In reality, although they got back together from time to time, with Pete swearing he wouldn’t stray again, it never really worked for them, and now that Dana has moved to Long Island, Pete has stayed in the city and on the job.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Dana cannot seem to resist sticking her nose into getting to the bottom of some terrible crimes that rock the normally peaceful town where she lives. She works with or without the cooperation of local police to solve whatever “unsolvable” crimes happen, despite warnings from the police to mind her own business and let them do their jobs.

As tough as Dana is, though, she also has a soft side that she doesn’t like to admit. When she meets Alex Frasier, her father’s nurse at Island Breeze, the two are instantly attracted to one another. They quickly begin an intense love affair, which seems idyllic until after four residents at Island Breeze are murdered, Dana has reason to suspect Alex of being the perpetrator, and she shares that suspicion with local police. Alex, who is actually completely innocent of any wrongdoing, is so mortally hurt and offended by Dana’s lack of trust, that he says he may never forgive her, and that their relationship is over. But Dana finds out she is pregnant by Alex, whom she still loves deeply, and as she struggles about whether to go through with the pregnancy at the “ripe old age” of 43, she tries desperately to get Alex’s love and trust back. Having been a very heavy drinker during her career and after she moved back to Long Island, the pregnancy forces her to stop drinking, and her sobriety gives her a great deal of insight she never had before.

Dana puts herself out in every way she can imagine, waiting on Alex hand-and-foot, apologizing over and over again, and doing everything else she can think of to win him back. Although he admits he’s never stopped loving her, he is recalcitrant to get back together with her until a mutual friend acts as an intermediary and urges Alex—who is desperate for Dana to go through with the pregnancy—to let Dana know he will be there for their baby no matter what.

After Dana decides to keep the baby, and after a great deal of effort on her part, Alex finally comes around, and the two are reconciled. That gives Dana a great deal of relief, although her father’s declining health is a constant source of sadness. She regrets that her father will never have the opportunity to really know his grandchild. When Alex gets down on one knee and proposes to her, Dana tearfully accepts his proposal and is thankful that she will be with the man of her dreams, and that even at this age, they will be starting a family together.

ABOUT THE BOOK

STONE COLD SOBER by Rebecca Marks (Black Opal Books; September 23rd)

Dana Cohen, a forty-three-year-old, hard-drinking NYPD detective, spent twenty-two years on the force before retiring to Long Island. Now Dana’s best friend, Marilyn, is directing a local musical theater production. Dana’s estranged lover, Alex Frasier, the father of the child she’s carrying, is a Morris dancer in the show, but Dana has no theatrical talent at all. So Marilyn cooks up a way to get the two former lovebirds together, hiring Dana to work security for the production. When Dana discovers a gruesome murder during one of the show’s rehearsals, her “detective gene” overtakes her, and she can’t resist the urge to throw herself into this case. But as she investigates, she uncovers some dark secrets and realizes, too late, how far someone will go to keep them hidden…

 
About the Author
 
Rebecca Marks has been writing, playing music, and singing for as long as she can remember. In September, Stone Cold Sober, a Dana Cohen mystery, joins the two other books in that series: On the Rocks and Four Shots Neat. Marks is also the author of About Time and About Face. Visit her website at RebeccaMarksAuthor.com.

SECOND CHANCE GIRL by Susan Mallory

October 8, 2017

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Happily Inc, Book 2

This is second book in this terrific new series. I loved the first book, You Say it First, and this one as well.

Happily, Inc. is a small town in the desert of California, not too far from Los Angeles. It is a destination wedding town, and almost all the businesses in Happily, Inc. cater to making brides happy. In the first book we met the owner of the major wedding planner and venue, and this book is about one of her friends, Carol Lund.

Carol is the local game keeper. Her father and his brother opened a recycling center that is the envy of everyone, and part of the land they purchased they turned over to Carol. They’ve brought in some endangered grazing animals, like zebras and a giraffe. But the giraffe is lonely, the females generally live in herds, so Carol is trying to raise the money to bring in more animals, but it’s slow going.

The Mathias brothers are all artists that live in town, too. And they’re gorgeous, of course. Originally from Fool’s Gold, (another series) they’ve moved here to get away from their overbearing, abusive father. One of the brothers, Mathias, lives next door to Carol. She is well aware of his penchant for bridesmaids and his love ’em and leave ’em lifestyle. But they become friends, and eventually much more than that.

Malley creates a somehow believable fairy tale world in her books, and that speaks to her writing. Her characters are flawed and real and her plotlines always interesting. And occasionally steamy! This is another terrific read in what is becoming one of my favorite series.

10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECOND CHANCE GIRL by Susan Mallory. HQN Books (September 26, 2017). ISBN 978-0373799350. 384p.

Kindle