Joshua Fields is a workaholic. The good part of that is he works for his father who has every intention of turning their thriving business over to his son as soon as Joshua is ready. The bad part of that is that he is always traveling; in and out of airports all around the country and living out of suitcases in one hotel after another. He has a girlfriend that he thinks he will marry but is not that excited about the prospect. He also does not like flying, and lives on Xanax in order to be able to board a flight.
The story begins with Joshua meeting a beautiful girl at an airport, sharing a drink, and a kiss and realizing that he wants to have more with Morgan; the lady in question. He than begins a round of chasing after her from one city after another until they meet again. This time the two share a beautiful interlude of sex until Morgan just disappears again. Joshua chases after her; does not meet his father at a very important meeting with prospective customers in Florida, and becomes involved with Morgan’s problems which may include being involved with murder.
The events of the novel are laid out in a very enticing way, and they lend themselves into having to finish the book in one delightful read. It has been several years since Mr Bell’s last book was published and that for me was a spoiler via hoping that his next book will be available shortly. But than again one cannot ask a gifted writer to hurry the next finished project and risking the possibility that it will not match his previous books. A five star novel and one that does continue the author’s literary reputation and the hope that more of his works will be available shortly.
7/19 Paul Lane
LAYOVER by David Bell. Berkley; 1st PB edition (July 2, 2019). ISBN 978-0440000877. 416p.
Inspector Hazlerigg, Book 5
7/19 Paul Lane
DEATH HAS DEEP ROOTS by Michael Gilbert. House of Stratus; New edition edition (December 11, 2011). ISBN 978-0755105205. 240p.
It is to be expected that an accomplished author such as Morrell would handle any form of literary endeavor with the same masterful touch as any other. In this, Morrell’s third selection of short stories, the truth of the matter is that he does.
This current volume contains fourteen stories ranging in themes from science fiction to horror, all presented with a forward by Morrell indicating a short background of what he did with the stories. A few have characters from his novels as well as independent situations involving those individuals introduced elsewhere.
A review of a volume such as “Before I Wake” presents the difficulty of trying to capture all of a book filled with different situations. That part normally captured in a full length novel must merely include the comment that the author is the tried and true master of all his creations. I read all of the book in one sitting, liked most of the stories, some not so much, and did find that the experience is only different from the author’s novels in that the situation presented must be done in a shorter time.
In the accepted rating system of stars – one or more up to five -I can’t do anything else but give five stars because of the way the author has easily grabbed my attention and allowed me the pleasure of a wonderful reading experience. Read the book, at the very least you will find one or probably many stories to become fascinated with.
6/19 Paul Lane
BEFORE I WAKE by David Morrell. Subterranean; Deluxe Hardcover edition (June 30, 2019). ISBN 978-1596069121. 376p.
Uptown Girls, Book 1
From the publisher:
Keeper of secrets.
Breaker of hearts.
He can solve any problem . . .
In serving the wealthy power brokers of New York society, Frank Tripp has finally gained the respectability and security his own upbringing lacked. There’s no issue he cannot fix . . . except for one: the beautiful and reckless daughter of an important client who doesn’t seem to understand the word danger.
She’s not looking for a hero . . .
Excitement lies just below Forty-Second Street and Mamie Greene is determined to explore all of it—while playing a modern-day Robin Hood along the way. What she doesn’t need is her father’s lawyer dogging her every step and threatening her efforts to help struggling families in the tenements.
However, she doesn’t count on Frank’s persistence . . . or the sparks that fly between them. When fate upends all her plans, Mamie must decide if she’s willing to risk it all on a rogue . . .
Shupe kicks off a new series in historical New York City, which is very reminiscent of London in the same time period. The wealthy live in a small enclave and the rest of the city is in dire need around them, yet completely invisible to the elites. Except for Greene girls. They are very much aware of the poverty and turmoil below 42nd Street and strive to help the families that the church turns away. They make money by gambling in places women are not allowed and that brings Frank Tripp into the picture.
Tripp is the family attorney and he is trying to help his client, the girls’s father, by protecting the daughters. But there is no stopping Mamie Greene, and Tripp greatly admires her – both her feistiness and her looks. These two are constantly verbally sparring, which adds friction to the chemistry between them. When one of Mamie’s families gets into trouble, she looks to Tripp to help them.
Tripp is hiding some secrets of his own but he agrees to help Mamie, he simply can’t say no to her. And anything that will get them to spend more time together works for both of them. So he agrees to defend a woman accused of murdering her husband. She did it, but it was self defense, but the cops don’t care about that. The victim was related to a police detective. The NYC police department is rife with corruption that goes all the way to the top. I laughed when Teddy Roosevelt comes riding in towards the end. This intrigued me so much that I looked into Teddy Roosevelt and the NYC police department and found this terrific piece from NPR.
While this is an engrossing tale, it’s the little touches of reality that really make the story shine. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE ROGUE OF FIFTH AVENUE by Joanna Shupe. Avon (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-0062906816. 400p.
Mason takes his readers back into the England of Queen Victoria in a period around the 1860’s. He brings to vibrant life a London rife with dirt, filth, crime and disease.
Charles Darwin has recently returned from his five year voyage on H.M.S. Beagle and as a result of his studies and observations had published the very controversial “Origin Of the Species.” His claim was that nature assured the survival of creatures that developed the strongest adaptation of those skills necessary to survive in a competitive world. His views conflicted with those of many people that subscribed to the notion that man was made in God’s image. It was therefore, blasphemy to consider that humans were evolutionary descendants of apes.
At the same time the author Charles Dickens had created Chief Detective Bucket in his novel “Bleak House.” It was thought that Inspector Bucket was modeled after a real life police officer named Charles Field. The Darwin Affair begins with an attempted assassination of Queen Victoria and her husband, the Prince Consort Albert. Field is assigned to protect the royal couple and becomes involved with many of the events described.
The story brings into play a kidnapping of a butcher’s boy and what happens to him, a ring of men that rob graves in order to sell the corpses to medical schools and a visit of Prince Albert with Victoria to his native Bavaria. Mason also presents the woman who became known as Typhoid Mary to later generations of medical students. Mary was thought to be a carrier of a recessed gene for typhoid, infecting all she came in contact with but never showing symptoms herself.
The author has taken great care in researching the events portrayed and the settings in which they take place. Conversations attributed to the characters have carefully been formulated to ring true to the more formal manner of speaking at the time. A rewarding read with the consequent portrait of the period being looked at and one that will cause readers to seek out future books by this author.
6/19 Paul Lane
THE DARWIN AFFAIR by Tim Mason. Algonquin Books; 1 edition (June 11, 2019). ISBN 978-1616206345. 384p.
The Devils of Dover, Book 3
From the publisher:
Baron. Physician. Smuggler. Harland Hayward is living a double life as an aristocrat by day and a criminal by night. As a doctor, Harland has the perfect cover to appear in odd places at all hours, a cover he uses to his advantage. He’s chosen this life to save his family from financial ruin, but he draws the line at taking advantage of the honest and trustworthy Katherine Wright.
Katherine thought she was done smuggling. Having finally convinced her ailing father and injured brother to abandon their criminal pursuits, she’s returned to England to help them escape to a new life–once she helps them fulfill their last contract. And that means working with Hayward, even when her instincts tell her that becoming his ally may be a risk to her heart – as well as her life.
Bowen is an award winning romance writer and this is only the second book of hers that I’ve read, and the first in this series. It’s a very good, very suspenseful read.
Our heroine is a surgeon, although the protocol of the day states that there is no such thing as a lady doctor. Nonetheless, Katherine is a doctor, trained by her mother and by war. She followed her heart, going off to war with a man who promised to marry her. Instead, he abandoned her, leaving her bitter and suspicious. But she learned a lot, she stayed abroad and took care of many soldiers who weren’t wealthy enough for a real, AKA, male doctor.
Once again we have to truly suspend our disbelief and I don’t mind at all. I like these strong, smart, completely fictional women who should have been able to kick butt instead of being relegated to looking pretty and capturing a husband. The hero is also an anomaly; a member of the peerage who is a practicing doctor instead of just practicing gambling and hunting as befits his station. Oh, and both of them are smugglers. This is a complex story with a lot of suspense due to all the illegal activity going on, not to mention a power hungry zealot as the town lawman.
A comment on the cover, because I do, at times, judge a book by its cover. If I saw this on the shelf in a bookstore or library, I would not realize that it is historical based on the picture on the cover. The title certainly hints at it, not a lot of contemporary romances use “rogue” in the title. But it looks like a pretty modern guy, maybe wearing a puffy shirt (remember that Seinfeld episode?)
6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
A ROGUE BY NIGHT by Kelly Bowen. Forever (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1478918622. 368p.
From the very fertile mind of Blake Crouch comes another novel that is like his past works: almost science fiction, perhaps forecasting the future but most decidedly imaginative and bound to cause sleepless nights for his readers. Crouch has given us the trilogy “Wayward Pines” and recently “Dark Matter” This, his latest novel, continues in the vein of being completely out of the box and going way beyond the limits of imaginative fiction.
Barry Sutton is a detective with the New York City Police Department. He is called to try and stop a possible suicide of a woman who is looking to jump off a building in Manhattan. In talking to her, the lady comes out with the reason for wanting to jump; “my son has been erased.” When she does jump to her death Barry is stirred to begin investigating what she was talking about. He finds a definite surge around the country with cases of people waking up from sleep with memories of a life they never lived. The malady gets the name of “false memory syndrome” and appears to be spreading with resultant suicides when the situation can’t be faced.
Separately, neuroscientist Helena Smith is working on a method of preserving one’s most intense memories and allowing the person involved to relive them. A method seen as providing humans with vivid memories of both wonderful, and even bad in order to enjoy them again.
Barry and Helena meet, becoming lovers and marrying. And Helena’s project gives rise to actually reentering life at certain points in time based on the memories of the person. Is this time travel or something more? Crouch builds a lucid and very logical progression of events involved with using memories to relive the past. While nothing is mentioned in the notes after the book, I believe it would be an incredible movie. Hope Hollywood picks this up and makes it so.
6/19 Paul Lane
RECURSION by Blake Crouch. Crown (June 11, 2019). ISBN 978-1524759780. 336p.
Sins for All Seasons, Book 3
From the publisher:
The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger. As Finn came of age, he had secrets, too—the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter. But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.
Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.
When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns. As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk . . .
I was so proud of myself; I have been reading this series in order. But this book sort of threw me. It is the third book in the series but it moves back and forth in time for a while, making it sort of a prequel at times and then a sequel. It was an interesting was to create a third book in a series, leaving enough bread crumbs for first time series readers to find their way back to the beginning without feeling lost. Yet this book can stand alone as well, if that makes sense? We’ll just call it good writing because Heath, who has been writing romance for a long while, really knows what she is doing.
The series centers around a family headed by Ettie Trewlove, a baby farmer. Baby farmers were women that took in babies or children that were born on the “wrong side of the blanket.” They were paid to take the illegitimate offspring of wealthy men and women. For Ettie, a poor widow, it was an ideal way to have the family she always wanted. But many baby farmers were just in it for the money. In fact, there were many that abused the children, starved them, worked them to death, or even just outright killed them. It was not a good time to be illegitimate in England.
Fortunately for the family at the center of this series, Ettie was a kind and loving mother. I originally thought that none of the children she took in were related by blood, even as close as they all seem to be. But it turns out that two of them are half brothers, born weeks apart to two different mothers but sired by the same father. Ah, the English aristocracy. So debauched.
Lavinia is an interesting character. You do know, from the beginning, what happens to her and why she has left her Duke at the altar, and why she is set on rescuing children from baby farmers. But as the story moves on, it gets darker and more emotionally gripping.
Aidan is also an intriguing character. You can’t help but root for them to get together, especially as the horrors of their lives apart unfold. This was a really good romance, and the major plot about the baby farmers was eye opening and so disheartening. There has been mention of this sort of thing in other historical romances I’ve read, but this really delves into it. I am assuming that Heath did her homework as it really feels like she did.
Another excellent romance from one of my favorites. Can’t wait for the next book in this series! Oh, and the ending hints at who will be at the center of that one.
4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
A SCOUNDREL IN HER BED by Lorraine Heath. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 31, 2018). ISBN 978-1492663355. 352p.
The Duke’s Den, Book 1
From the publisher:
In the first novel in Christy Carlyle’s sizzling Duke’s Den series, three men, intent on making a fortune,discover irresistible opportunities . . .
Nicholas Lyon gambled his way into a fortune and ownership of the most opulent, notorious gentlemen’s club in England. But when Nick’s cruel brother dies, he inherits a title he never wanted. The sooner Nick is rid of the estate that has always haunted him, the sooner he can return to the life he’s built in London. But there’s one obstacle—the exquisite Thomasina Thorne.
When the new heir to the Tremayne dukedom suddenly appears in Mina Thorne’s life, she’s flustered. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome, but he’s also determined to take away her home and position as steward of the Enderley estate. If Mina learns what makes the enigmatic duke tick, perhaps she can change his mind—as long as she doesn’t get too close to him.
With each day Nick spends with Mina, his resolve weakens as their colliding wills lead to explosive desire. Could she be the one woman who can help him finally bury the ghosts of his past?
This was a really emotional story. Our hero, Nick, has an unsightly scar across his face and how he got it is simply heartbreaking. As is his whole backstory. Mina’s story is much easier, thank goodness. I don’t think I could have handled any more. Interestingly, Mina is the estate steward, a job she trained for all her life and inherited when her father died. The new Duke is not aware of this, however, since Mina’s full name is Thomasina and she signs all her correspondence with her initial, just like her father. So when the Duke arrives, he is not happy that he’s been lied to.
Mina and Nick are an unlikely couple, and it’s just class that separates them. The bigger hurdle is the estate she calls home and he calls hell. They need to overcome many obstacles to reach their happily ever after, and it was not a smooth journey by any means. I was racing through this book but the last part sort of slowed down and meandered a bit, but ultimately it was worth it. No spoilers here – let’s just say there were some unusual plot twists that I really enjoyed.
I am really looking forward to the next book in this series, Anything But a Duke, which comes out April 30. A review should be out sometime that week – stay tuned!
4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
A DUKE CHANGES EVERYTHING by Christy Carlyle. Avon (November 27, 2018). ISBN 978-0062853950. 384p.