Genre: Literary

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The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 stars

March 27, 2017 Mira, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 starsThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira Books on March 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, Romance, 20th Century
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

From the bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief comes a sweeping tale of loss and courage, where one woman discovers that her destiny is written in sand, not carved in stone.

Faye Barlow is drowning. After the death of her beloved husband, Will, she cannot escape her grief and most days can barely get out of bed. But when she's offered a job photographing South Carolina's storied coast, she accepts. Photography, after all, is the only passion she has left.

In the quaint beach town, Faye falls in love again when she sees the crumbling yet beautiful Bride Island lighthouse and becomes obsessed with the legend surrounding The Lady of the Light—the keeper's daughter who died in a mysterious drowning in 1921. Like a moth to a flame, Faye is drawn to the lighthouse for reasons she can't explain. While visiting it one night, she is struck by a rogue wave and a force impossible to resist drags Faye into the past—and into a love story that is not her own.

Fate is changeable. Broken hearts can mend. But can she love two men separated by a lifetime?

I find myself a bit torn with this book.  I quite enjoyed it but I am struggling with explaining why it resonated with me.  This is definitely a different style of writing by an author who I have enjoyed getting to read and meet but it still resonates as a Tiffany Reisz story even without the sexual content.

We get to see a woman who hasn’t been herself in years.  She’s at a huge crossroads where life is not really something she cares to embrace but at the same time she does have a very strong spirit that pulls her forward no matter how much another part of her wants to let go.  I felt for her as we are introduced to her at a moment where she finally lets some things go.  I found myself intrigued by the idea of having someone that meant so much to you in such a short time.  I also felt for the fact that the man she married out of grief? obligation? comfort?  had to suffer as well.  Neither of them deserved what happened but I will say that the reader can rest assured as the story is told and resolved for them.

The time travel aspect was something I wasn’t certain that I’d enjoy but I found myself comfortably following the story line as we moved from now to then and back again.  There was a sense of continuity in both timelines that wouldn’t exist had we not done the jumps.  I also loved the priest who made me laugh with his humor and candor.  I think the underlying theme is one of hope in the face of adversity and that having the love of your life stolen from you way too soon does not mean life is over.  I think that this story highlights that love can happen again if one is very lucky and open to the chance.

I’m rambling and I know I am but this underscores why I am struggling with explaining this book.  I can just say that I quite enjoyed it and hope that others will give this a chance.  I hope you are drawn in to the story and want to know how it all works out.

four-stars

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The Bourbon Thief – Tiffany Reisz – 4 stars

June 29, 2016 NetGalley, Read in 2016 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Bourbon Thief – Tiffany Reisz – 4 starsThe Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira on June 28, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Literary, General, Romance, Historical
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

From the internationally celebrated author of the Original Sinners series comes a brand-new tale of betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

I struggle with how to explain this one without giving away secrets but here we go any way…

There are two time periods (actually sort of 3… hmmmm….) that are presented in this book but you won’t be thrown back and forth like crazy between the periods so if your afraid of it because of that…  worry no more.

Present day is a man meets a woman at the bar, they play a bit in bed, she tries to steal from him and then he gets told a story.  The present day piece is not the main story you want to hear even though I’d almost like to know more about Cooper as he might have his own story to tell but I digress.  Paris is the woman who has attempted to steal a very valuable bottle of bourbon from him and while he’s pissed she makes a deal with him that he can’t refuse.  She’ll tell him a story and at the end of it he’ll be compelled to give her the bottle as it is rightfully hers.  This is the real story you are wanting to read and it isn’t the most beautiful or happy story.

We get to see the dark underbelly of a Kentucky bourbon dynasty where anything will go in order to keep the family line intact.  We have murder, incest, rape and all sort of other secrets that come to light as Paris reveals the story of the last of the great Maddox family.

Tamara is the golden Maddox princess but her life isn’t all sunshine and love.  Is she spoiled?  Yes….  but not all is right in the Maddox household.  There are so many secrets that start to unravel on her birthday and they come to light slowly over the course of a few years and the reader is taken along for the ride.  We get glimpses of the founding of the distillery and the madness that started it all.  We also see that this latest behavior by the scion of the Maddox line is not the only time where darkness has entered it but that the line has had issues all along.

I enjoyed this story but I will warn you that this isn’t for everyone.  There are things that come to light as Paris reveals the history which might make (honestly should make) one uncomfortable but I found myself drawn to the characters and wanted to know more.  I’d like to see more of Paris in the future as she intrigued me but this doesn’t read like a start of a series so perhaps that will never happen.  If you don’t mind darker tones to a story then I’d say go grab this one but if even the idea of rape or incest makes you extremely uncomfortable then you might not like this.  I will note that I did like what happened to the person who attempted the rape so… there’s that…  Once again Tiffany has given us a story that isn’t pretty in tone but keeps you interested in knowing more about the characters and wanting to know how it all plays out.

four-stars

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Before the Fall – Noah Hawley – 4 stars

June 4, 2016 Grand Central, Read in 2016 1

Before the Fall – Noah Hawley – 4 starsBefore the Fall - FREE PREVIEW (Prologue and Chapter 1) by Noah Hawley
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 19th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Thrillers, Suspense
Pages: 34
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo comes the thriller of the year.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people-ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter-depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs-the painter-and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members-including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot-the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

This was an interesting book showing how things can change in a blink of an eye and what you think was true maybe wasn’t so true after all.

We have one couple that seem to love one another but his drive keeps him away from them most of the time.  They’ve stood the test of a child abduction but perhaps things aren’t as happy as they seem.  The glimpses we get of this couple and their daughter were moving in many ways as we get to see a sense of what might’ve been if the plane hadn’t gone down.  You also feel a huge sense of sadness that JJ doesn’t get to have more time with his mom.  I liked what we got to see of her and how much she truly loved her kids but still seemed to not be comfortable in the world she stumbled in to.  Her husband also seemed to be a good man under the drive and seeing what happened after the crash while knowing what happened on his last day in his office made me wonder what if…

We have a couple that to me never seemed to be in synch even in the glimpses we got of them from before the crash.  The tidbits made me wonder what made them get together in the first place?  What kept them together other than appearances?  At the same time we see how they lived just before the crash and this makes you wonder what really plays out behind closed doors both on a professional level and a personal one?  I wanted to know more about how he got started on the path he was on…  what might’ve come out if the crash didn’t happen… wanted to know more about the others who had a hand in it… I just wanted more.

We have the man who just happened to barely make the plane and wasn’t really supposed to be on there.  How he used a memory from childhood to save himself and JJ.  How this accident and quirk of fate took him down a path he couldn’t imagine but one that he was uniquely suited for.  I liked Scott.  I truly liked him and appreciated how he moved thru this event while not letting others dictate his path.  I loved how he seemed to be more present than anyone else in the story and didn’t hide away from the truth as it was presented to him.  I appreciated how he saw things others didn’t see but also didn’t claim to know all the answers.  He just was….. I’d love to see where he goes and how JJ grows up….

There are other characters that weave around this story and seeing their parts play out made this an interesting read.  You are pulled in various directions, across various time periods but it all makes sense as the acts play out.  I appreciated this as we got to see the lives interrupted… lives cut short because..

Yeah you thought I would give away the details of what happens but honestly that would wreck it.  Take a chance and read this…  I know I’m glad I grabbed it while at BEA as it kept me entranced as these stories played out.

four-stars

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The List – Anne Calhoun – 4.5 Stars – Contest

March 3, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 2

I received this book for free from the publisher . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The List – Anne Calhoun – 4.5 Stars – ContestThe List by Anne Calhoun
Published by Berkley Publishing Group on 2015-03-03
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, General, Literary, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: the publisher
The List (An Irresistible Novel)<img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=booaholano0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00L9B7CCS" target="_blank">Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Who’s on top?

Matchmaker and stationery shop owner Matilda Davies brings people together. For those on her list, Tilda will find the man or woman of their dreams—whether it’s for an hour or a lifetime. But due to a painful past, the British expat has never put her own name on the list. Instead, she limits herself to emotionless and commitment-free hookups. Then she meets Daniel, who wants not just her body, but also her heart…

Daniel Logan hides the soul of a poet under the suit and tie of an FBI agent. Specializing in financial crimes, he pieces together stories of greed and ensures justice is done. He plays by the rules—until he meets Tilda. He’s drawn in by her passion as well as her mysteriousness. Daniel knows that no matter her secrets, he’s the perfect match for Tilda. But even pleasure doesn’t come with a guarantee…

Ok bear with me for a few…  This isn’t an easy book to read or review in some respects.  You need to be patient as you read this as you might be tempted to dislike the heroine but give her a chance.  She’s who she is because of where she came from and what she had to deal with growing up.  I found myself understanding her in many ways because I could see myself in her ways of protecting herself from what she sees as a fundamental flaw within herself.  The hero is someone you will not have any issues with as he is definitely swoonworthy in his devotion to the woman who captivated him from the start.

Let’s start with what I adore about Daniel:

  • His devotion to the heroine even as she tries to drive him away
  • His understanding that it isn’t him at issue but something within her
  • His devotion to his family
  • His acceptance that they are two distinct people and should be free to have their own pursuits
  • His message on the first day *you won’t see it until the end but dear lord*
  • His way of getting her to start seeing him *admittedly loved how sneaky and dirty he was*
  • His naughty as hell side *fans self*

Now let’s see what caused me to like Matilda *Tilda*:

  • Her knowledge that Daniel isn’t at fault
  • Her acceptance that she wants him even as she fears hurting him
  • Her soft heart hidden under the ice that she wears so well
  • Her ability to see what people need even as she won’t see her own needs
  • Her ability to spot something special in things that she herself doesn’t understand but craves with all her being
  • Her love for her grandmother
  • Her wilder impulsive side that is there just waiting for someone to see it and encourage it
  • Her true nature that just needs someone to truly accept her and love her

Now…  the two people who I wish would fall off the face of the earth for what they did to a younger Matilda that made her in to the seemingly cold woman who believes something is wrong with her…  well I am not going to give them away here but trust that you will want to put them in a special spot in hell for what they did to her psyche when she was vulnerable.  This of course also causes Daniel some pain as we see but you’ll love his understanding of what is truly going on and admire how much he was able to let go as much as it hurt him to do so.  This is a man worthy of love and devotion which you’ll see he eventually gets from the one woman who completes him.

 

I adored this story and since the team at Berkeley are so generous…  I have a paperback copy of this one to give away to one lucky commenter.  All you need to do is tell me something about the person(s) that ground you.  We all have someone that has held that place in our heart that we know accepts us as we are…  Mine was my grandfather Sophus who I knew loved me as I was…  Leave a comment by 3/11/15 at 11:59 pm CT for a chance to win the paperback.

four-half-stars

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The Distraction – Sierra Kincade – 4 stars – Contest

January 29, 2015 Berkley Trade, Contest, Read in 2015, Sent 4

I received this book for free from the publisher . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Distraction – Sierra Kincade – 4 stars – ContestThe Distraction by Sierra Kincade
Published by Berkley Publishing Group on 2015-02-03
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Literary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
The Distraction (The Body Work Trilogy Book 2)<img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=booaholano0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00L9AXY7G" target="_blank">Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

The seductive story that started in The Masseuse continues...

Anna Rossi knows that opening your heart only gets you hurt. But Alec Flynn is just too good to resist…

It’s been three long months since Anna’s seen Alec, since he saved her life and lit up her soul with unquenchable desire. Being without him has left her on edge, but his bravery has motivated her to change her life and go after what she’s always wanted—a job where she can help people. She can’t wait to show Alec the woman she’s become in his absence, or to prove how much she’s missed him…

Three months away has done nothing to slake Alec’s need for Anna. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made his life any less dangerous. The last thing he wants to do is hurt Anna, but if giving her up is the only way to save her, he’s not sure he can do that either. He’s determined to have her for as long as he can. Except his past is creeping up on him faster than he knows, and this time he may not be able to keep her from becoming collateral damage…

I just can’t give up on this story even as things in the relationship between Anna and Alec set off big old warning bells in my head.  She’s obsessed with him so ignores everything and everyone who is concerned about how much pain he has brought to her just by being involved with her.  I get it but at the same time there is something that isn’t healthy about their relationship but circumstances are what is causing a majority of the issues as they can’t spend much needed time getting to know one another outside of their amazing chemistry.

I enjoyed this installment more than the previous one because we did get to see how much they truly need one another outside of the bedroom.  Alec is willing to do so much in order to protect Anna and you can feel how badly this whole mess is hurting him because he knows it is killing her.  He’s growly and protective but I did get a bit fed up with his inability to just lay his cards out on the table in the name of protecting her.  Honesty is something they both desperately need but both of them keep so much from one another that it causes conflict every single time it is revealed.  I got why he did it..  I honestly did but at some point I would hope that he would just realize that it always comes out in the worst way possible.

Anna is stronger in this story than the previous one and I appreciated that immensely.  I liked the spine we got to see as she stands up for herself in most ways and definitely does so in the end.  I look forward to seeing more of this side of her develop and hope that the conclusion will keep her spine stiff enough to not settle for anything less than she deserves.  Her willingness to see the good in people is severely tested in this story and my hope is she will still be open to people but a bit more open to listening to her inner self when something isn’t quite right with the facade presented to her.

Overall I enjoyed this one and hope that we not only get the final resolution for Anna/Alec but also get to see Amy happy with ummmm well read this one and you’ll see who I hope she can find happiness with.  She and her daughter deserve happiness and I’d love to see it with XXX…. *snicker*

 

So I’m going to start something new with this review…  In this case my review copy was a paper copy provided by the wonderful people at Penguin/Berkeley Publishing and I am running out of space to keep every single copy of a book that I get no matter how much I love them so…  You get to start winning some of them…  YAY!!!  In this case to win my copy of this book comment below by Wednesday, February 4 at 11:59 pm US Central with something you’ve done in the name of love/lust/extreme like that isn’t something you would normally even consider doing….  

four-stars

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