THE CURRENT by Tim Johnston

January 22, 2019

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A captivating novel about two murders 10 years apart and how they are intertwined, tearing up the people living in a small Minnesota town.

Caroline Price and Audrey Sutter are two young women going to the same University. They have become good friends and take to sharing their experiences and confiding confidential matters to each other. When Christmas and New Year’s break comes up, circumstances place them together in Caroline’s car driving to their respective homes which are fairly close together.

Caught up in a huge snow blizzard the two stop at a roadside fast food store in Iowa to get some coffee and donuts. Audrey, going into the store, is attacked by two men in a rape attempt. She is saved by Caroline who runs inside and uses mace to stave off the attackers. Dashing out and meaning to run away from the attackers they drive in a completely unsafe manner for the conditions caused by the snow.

When stopping to get their bearings their car is pushed by another car coming up behind them into an iced over river, breaking through the ice and sinking into the fast flowing water that is underneath. Caroline is killed while Audrey miraculously survives and returns home to the Minnesota town she lives in with her father. The driver of the other car is sought for the crime which brings back memories of a similar murder that happened ten years earlier. That murder was never solved although suspicion forced a young man to flee the area.

Johnston utilizes a writing style that fully describes the actions in the book in a manner that keeps the novel moving rapidly, portrays the characters both via describing their actions and having them also speak at the same time. It is a style that causes a good novel to become mesmerizing and the reader totally captivated.

The ending is a perfect capstone for the book, but is by no means a fairy tale one and does not set the groundwork for a sequel. An excellent narrative which will cause readers to eagerly await the next book by Johnston.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE CURRENT by Tim Johnston. Algonquin Books (January 22, 2019). ISBN 978-1616206772. 416p.

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DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh

January 20, 2019

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The London Underground, Book 3

From the publisher:

Named one of Amazon’s Best Romances of December!

For a dashing duke and the proprietress of a secret, sensual club in the London Underground, passion could lead to love… if they dare

Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see her, the woman he’s wanted forever.

Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling to risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her…until him, the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation…

But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.


Let me start by saying I really liked this book. That said, while it looks like a Regency romance, there is a lot of sex in this book. Not that long ago, Regencies did not have nearly as much sex as is more common today, and I’m only mentioning it because this book actually surprised me.

The Orchid Club is a sex club, where anyone from the gentry to the working class can go to partake of, well, anything that is freely given. Consensual sex only. Oddly, the price of admission is a donation, so money is not the point, leading to one of the inconsistencies in this story. I am starting to get used to the fact that history is being rewritten in historical romances lately.

Lucia was a prostitute before rising to manager of a sex club. And she’s not English, but is from Italy. That was a very big deal back in the day. Nonetheless, the newly minted duke is completely enamored of her, and she of him. While he knows he has to marry for political gain, he can’t help but fall in love with Lucia. Did I mention this couple has almost insurmountable obstacles to overcome? But that is the fun here. If you like a lot of explicit sex with your romance, this is the book for you. If you don’t, either skip those pages (and there are a bunch) or look elsewhere for your next read. I liked it and recommend it.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh. Avon (December 24, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062499455. 384p.

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NO EXIT by Taylor Adams

January 19, 2019

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Darby Thorne, a young college student, has been called by her sister to rush home in order to see her mother before the lady passes away.  We meet up with Darby as she is caught in an immense snow blizzard while driving into the Colorado mountains to get to her mother in time to say goodbye. She happens upon a rest area and is forced by the weather to drive into it and take shelter with four other people in the area’s building.

Anxious to tell her sister that she was stopped by the storm, she leaves the building in an attempt to find a source of a possible signal on her cell phone.

Unable to get a signal to use her phone and while walking back to the shelter, she happens upon the vehicle of one of the other people caught by the storm.  Looking through the window by chance she sees a young girl held in a cage on the inside. The realization that she has stumbled on a kidnapping galvanizes her thoughts and succeeding actions in attempting to free the captive and gives us one of the most exciting novels I’ve read in a long time.

Which of the four people currently in the rest area is the kidnapper and how Darby can get help from the others in effecting the girl’s release is the crux of the matter. Adams moves from one set of circumstances to another in developing the situation for the reader and arriving at the conclusion.

We are drawn into the story and along with Darby change our minds about what is happening and where it will go several times in enjoying a well done novel. A definite incentive for any reader to be looking for other books by the author.

1/19 Paul Lane

NO EXIT by Taylor Adams. William Morrow (January 15, 2019). ISBN 978-0062875655. 352p.

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THE PERFECT LIAR by Thomas Christopher Greene

January 18, 2019

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The novel is a perfect portrait of two people married to each other and facing a major crisis in their lives. First there is Susannah, a young and still very beautiful woman. She had been married, quite happily to a man that was older than her. He became the father of a boy with her but unfortunately passed away shortly after the child’s birth.

Susannah has the luck to attract an interesting and intelligent young man at a party that her boss throws for members of the New York art community. Max heard about the affair and decides to try and crash it in order to get contacts to further a career he is working on in the art world.

Susannah is helping her boss handle the details of the party, sees Max and makes a play for him. which turns out to be successful. Than with the help from her boss Max advances his career and manages to get a good teaching position with a Vermont based university. The couple and the boy are happy to leave New York and move to the area with the added luck of finding a beautiful home near the school.

A perfect life becomes opened to them when it is suddenly spoiled by the appearance of a strange note pinned to the front door. The note is not addressed nor signed but says,”I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.” Both Max and Susannah are devastated by the note since each has secrets that they want to keep to themselves and not share with anyone else. The novel brings the reader into the minds of both and develops a scenario that keeps the reader glued to the book awaiting the answers. These are not evident, although logical based upon the clues developed during the read.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT LIAR by Thomas Christopher Greene. St. Martin’s Press (January 15, 2019). ISBN 978-1250128218. 288p.

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THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk

January 17, 2019

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Peter Sutherland’s father was an agent with the FBI and Peter always looked up to him, wanting nothing less than to join that elite group when he was old enough. Unfortunately, his father’s reputation was destroyed when he was suspected of selling secrets to the Russians. The man’s place within the FBI was destroyed, his reputation tarnished and he eventually died with the shame of the disgrace hanging over him.

Peter still manages to enter the bureau but finds that the taint of his father’s alleged crime hangs heavily on him. It appears that he does not have a chance for any sort of a meaningful promotional opportunity when he is tapped to work in the White House situation room, manning a phone during the evening. His job consists of answering the phone if it ever rings, listening for a special code phrase and passing the call onto one of his two supervisors.

Bored to tears with the complete inactivity Peter still comes to work every night he is assigned to until one night at l:05 a.m the phone rings. A woman identifying herself as Rose, and completely rattled, indicates that her Aunt and Uncle have been killed and the murderer is still in the house. Peter reacts quickly, giving Rose instructions on getting away from the house, meanwhile setting up her rescue via the Secret Service and the D.C. police.

By involving himself with Rose’s predicament, Peter is thrown into a conspiracy that is years old and reaches to the very top of the U.S. government. To save his country Peter must begin by bending all rules and coming to the realization that anyone; even the U.S. president, could be a mole involved in destroying the government. Quirk shifts gears frequently and the reader will change opinions often. Even Rose, with whom Peter manages to begin a romance, is suspect due to her overly calm attitude and apparently more than professional reactions to events.

Character portrayal is well developed by the author, and the reader will get to know all the personnel, their thoughts, reactions and emotions to events being described. Peter is not superman; he can be hurt, could even be killed and wonders if his straying from policy will do more harm than good for him. I have had the good fortune to have read other Matthew Quirk novels in the past; all are engrossing, well done with plots and events built in that stand out and make sure that his books are sought after. I am certainly on line for his next outing and have no qualms about recommending the same to any reader looking for a great read.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk. William Morrow (January 15, 2019). ISBN 978-0062875464. 432p.

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WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

January 13, 2019

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From the publisher:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?


Have you seen the movie “Love, Simon”? It’s streaming on Netflix and is based on the book, Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. So when a friend (thanks, Caitlin!) recommended this book and mentioned that, I was in. It’s a terrific movie and this book is terrific as well.

This is a young adult gay love story, but you certainly don’t have to be a young adult or gay to enjoy it. The characters are likable and real, and I loved the New York City setting. Ben is a native New Yorker, Arthur is visiting for the summer and you get to see the city from both their perspectives, which is really interesting. But it is the characters that drew me in and kept me turning the pages. The book is often funny, sometimes sad, but always charming. Highly recommended – I hope this is made into a movie as well.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. HarperTeen (October 9, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062795250.  448p.

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Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr (books 8-18)

January 12, 2019

So I’ve been neglectful of this site for the last week or so for a couple of reasons. First, I got a new job and I’ve been acclimating and learning a lot. But also because I’ve been reading this series. On Christmas Eve day, I started reading Virgin River and I got so caught up in it I haven’t read anything else. So 18 books later, I’m done. Well, there are a couple of novellas that I had to order through interlibrary loan from my library and then I’ll really be finished. Here is the series in order:

1. Virgin River
2. Shelter Mountain
3. Whispering Rock
4. A Virgin River Christmas
5. Second chance pass
6. Temptation ridge
7. Paradise valley
8. Forbidden Falls
9. Angel’s Peak
10. Moonlight road
11. Promise canyon
12. Wild man creek
13. Harvest moon
14. Bring me home for Christmas
15. Hidden summit
16. Redwood Bend
17. Sunrise Point
18. My kind of Christmas

Virgin River is the name of a small town set in the mountains of northern California (I think?) Somewhere in California, it’s a fictitious town and I’m geographically challenged in reality, never mind in fiction. Most of the men are retired military and big, strapping extraordinarily good looking men, and most of the women are strong, independent and drop dead gorgeous. These are romances,  people, and this goes with the territory. The characters overlap somewhat but the first book, Virgin River, starts with Jack & Mel Sheridan getting together and they are in all of the books thereafter.

Needless to say, I loved this series. The books are fast reading and the characters are really brought to life. Everyone has baggage, and most have to overcome difficulties, some more serious than others, but all got me emotionally invested.

There is a bit of explicit sex in every book, usually just a couple of scenes, all of which, I’m sorry to say, are very similar. Let’s just say you can tell the same author wrote all these sex scenes. The men are all determined to take care of their women’s pleasure first, a good attribute and one I recommend all men take to heart. But it is the emotional connections that really resonate.

I do recommend reading the books in order although once you get past the first two or three, it isn’t as important.

Here is a link to the series on Amazon; if you are going to buy any of these books, please do so through this link so I  can make a few cents!


THE BURGLAR by Thomas Perry

January 9, 2019

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Ellie Stowell, the main character in Perry’s novel, is a young, very bright, pretty girl who has a way of making her living in a most unorthodox manner. She breaks into the homes of the rich and helps herself to money or salable items. She is really a very considerate woman. If someone leaves the water on she will turn it off, or if something else needs an adjustment to prevent damage to the house she will do something to rectify the situation. She has evolved a collection of the proper equipment to do her job, has a usable knowledge of art and other possibly salable items and has made her work into a profession.

The story begins with Ellie breaking into a house and coming across three dead bodies, killed by single shots to the head and laid out on a bed. She discovers a motion picture camera still running which the assassin did not discover. Ellie takes the camera with her and finds that she can alter the film to not show her entering the room. Her problems begin at this point when she finds out that the killer or killers have somehow discovered her presence and begin hunting her in order to eliminate the one witness that can probably point them out to the police.

It is obvious that Perry has done quite a bit of research on methods used by professional thieves and incorporates these into the novel. “The Burglar” is a fun read and Ellie comes across as a cute young lady that enjoys herself, making a living out of the activities described. Looking at the action and the logical ending it did occur to me that sequels to the book incorporating Ellie Stowell would be an easy thing to envision. I would certainly recommend looking for them in addition to reading the present book.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE BURGLAR by Thomas Perry. Mysterious Press (January 8, 2019)).  ISBN 978-0802129000. 304p.

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AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

January 8, 2019

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The authors’ first book together, “The Wife Between Us,” was a psychological thriller detailing one man married to a woman with the man having an affair with another girl. The book was an engrossing story with turns and twists that kept the reader changing opinions about results and at the same time simply glued to the novel.

The current book definitely follows suit with a plot that keeps the reader guessing and glued. The interactions are between a psychiatrist and a young woman.

Jessica Farris is recently arrived in New York City and like many is having trouble making a living. We meet her as she goes from customer to customer applying makeup to prepare that woman for an evening out; a show, a wedding or other event. During a visit to a customer she learns that a psychiatrist has invited the woman to take part in a study on ethics and morality with generous compensation offered. When Jessica hears her customer declining to take part in the study she decides that she will take her place in order to earn the money.

The psychiatrist , Dr. Shields, sets up a sequence and Jessica finds the questions posed are very personal. She decides to answer them truthfully since the tester has promised answers to be completely confidential. She is invited back for followups with the result that Dr. Shields, who is a very sophisticated and highly educated woman, invites Jessica to continue the testing via personal visits as directed. We follow Jessica’s thoughts as she enters into the requirements posed by the doctor and begins earning more money for this work.
Where is all this going, especially when one of the other participants in the study was found murdered. What is the upshot of the story and where does Jessica as well as Dr. Shields fit into it.

Another winner for the authors and another reason to continue seeking their books as they come out.

1/19 Paul Lane

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. St. Martin’s Press (January 8, 2019).  ISBN 978-1250133731. 384p.

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INVISIBLE by Andrew Grant

January 7, 2019

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Paul McGrath came from a well to do family with his father wanting him to enter the family business. Paul rebelled against the idea desiring to make things happen on his own. He consequently joined the army where he made it to the top of his military intelligence team.

After many years he felt that he had to return home to make things right with his father with whom he had become estranged. He returned and found that his father had passed away, but not until there was a fight with the partner his father had taken into his business since Paul did not want in. The fight had resulted in a court battle in which Paul’s father had seemingly come out ahead until a critical piece of evidence went missing.

The case was postponed indefinitely pending finding the missing evidence and that is the prelude to our interesting story. The police suggest to Paul that he take a job in the courthouse and look for the evidence. They insist that it could not have been stolen due to the very tight procedures in place protecting property used in litigation and must be someplace in the court facilities.

Paul does get a job at the court house and immediately gets pulled into becoming Robin Hood through helping other people with their own problems with court findings. In all probability Mr Grant has created an individual that can be used in other novels and has requisite skills to take on a myriad of work.

The novel is well done, describing Paul and the other people that take part in the story allowing the reader to get to know them and their place in the tale. If Grant is setting up Paul McGrath as a future principal character, the novels featuring him will be welcome and awaited.

1/19 Paul Lane

INVISIBLE by Andrew Grant. Ballantine Books (January 8, 2019). ISBN 978-0525619598. 320p.